“Notre Dame” translates from French to “Our Lady.” Our Marian namesake invites us to imitate our Blessed Mother. Her life was marked by acceptance of the Father’s will and bringing Jesus, her son, into the world. We, as sons and daughters of this most beautiful mother, are invited to bring Jesus into our worlds as well. We pray that by reading and learning about Mary will deepen your relationship with her and inspire others to do the same. May you experience the pure love of her Immaculate Heart.
The Catholic Church honors Mary with feast days based on dogma, apparitions, popular devotion, and events from her life and the scriptures. Below you can find a breakdown of the major Marian feast days.
January 1- Mary, Mother of God
Mary’s divine motherhood gives add another point of reflection during the Christmas season. It invites us to reflect on Mary’s in the Incarnation of the Jesus Christ. She accepts the message by the angel to become the Mother of God (Luke 1:26-38). Her fiat in this moment makes her an important instrument in God’s redemptive plan.
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. – Luke 2:16
February 11- Our Lady of Lourdes
This feast celebrates Our Blessed Mother’s appearance to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes (a southwestern city in France). Our Lady of Lourdes appeared 18 times from February 11 until July 16, 1858. The grotto at Lourdes is the spot that Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. Many pilgrims visit this spot today for its miraculous and healing waters.
“His mother said to the servants,
“Do whatever he tells you.” – John 2:5
March 25- The Annunciation
This feast day we remember when the angel Gabriel visited Mary. He announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of his beloved Son, Jesus. Mary humbly responds with her fiat and accepts the will of the Lord. Upon receiving her consent, the Holy Spirit descends upon Mary and she conceives Jesus. On this day, we thank God for his redemptive plan and the blessing of Mary as our Mother.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:38
May 13- Our Lady of Fatima
On May 13, the Church celebrates the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. She appeared to Lucia, who was 9 years old, and Franco, 8, and Jacinta, 6 (Lucia’s cousins) in the town of Fatima, Portugal. She asked these children to spread devotion to her Immaculate Heart, praying the Rosary, conversion, and sacrifice.
While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied, “Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.” – Luke 11:27-28
May 31- The Visitation
On this day, we celebrate the Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The gospel of Luke tells us that Mary made her way to her cousin in haste. As at the Annunciation, Mary responds to the voice of the Lord with promptness of will. When Mary enters Elizabeth’s home, her baby (John the Baptist) leapt at the sound of her greeting.
It is at this moment that the Church recognizes that John is filled with the Holy Spirit (baptized). Elizabeth recognizes the honor of Mary bringing God to visit, and in response, Mary proclaims the Magnificat.
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name. – Luke 1:46-49
What the Holy Fathers tell us about the Visitation
June 27- Our Lady of Perpetual Help
The tradition of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is traced back to 1495. Stolen from a Cretan monastery by a wine merchant a few years after its creation, it was brought to the church of St. Matthew in Rome. For 300 years, it resided at the church, venerated by thousands.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” – John 19:25
July 16- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
According to tradition, Our Lady appeared to the prior general, St. Simon Stock, at Aylesford, England. On July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin promised St. Simon Stock, weighed down with worry, that whoever wore the Carmelite habit (the scapular, in particular) would receive the gift of final perseverance.
The scapular, as worn by monks and friars, was a broad band of cloth over the shoulders, falling below the knees toward the feet front and back. Adapted for use by the laity, it became two small panels of brown cloth joined by strings and worn over the shoulders.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” – Acts 1:14
August 15- The Assumption
On this day, August 15th, we celebrate the mystery of Marys’ departure from the earth, when both her soul and her body were taken up into the presence of God.
Venerable Pope Pius XII defined this belief as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, papal infallibility proclaiming, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
“And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.” – Luke 1:47-48
August 22- The Queenship of Mary
Mary’s queenship finds its roots Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord,” and thus queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.
“But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” – Luke 1:43-45
September 8- the Birth of Mary
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday is important due to her vital role in salvation history. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 489) says,
Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living. By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age. Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women. Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.”
“She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” – St. Augustine
September 12- The Most Holy Name of Mary
The Church celebrates this feast in honor of our Blessed Mother and invites the faithful to approach her as children, to sit at her feet. Many of the saints have commented about her Most Holy Name, such as Saint Bernard, who says, “Surely the Mother of God could not have a name more appropriate, nor one more impressive of her high dignity. Mary is in fact the beautiful and brilliant star which shines upon the vast and stormy sea of the world.”
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” – Luke 1:30
September 15- Our Lady of Sorrows
This feast commemorates the unity between the Mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ through which she experienced interior sorrows that corresponded with the pains and sufferings from his missionary work, Passion, and Death.
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed. – Taken from the Stabat Mater
October 7- OurLady of the Rosary
In the Catholic Church, October is the month of the Holy Rosary. We celebrates the yearly feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7.
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” -Luke 1:28
November 21- The Presentation of Mary
Tradition holds that Mary was presented by her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, to the Temple in Jerusalem at a very young age. Saint Anne, likely suffered great shame due to her inability to bear a child. Upon becoming pregnant as a much older woman, St. Anne consecrated her child to God in service to the Temple in gratitude.
“Give thanks to Almighty God who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, and offer Him all the glory that this Maiden accorded to His majesty by her practice of the richest humility during her childhood and throughout the rest of her life.” -St. John Eudes
December 8- Immaculate Conception
On December 8, we honor Mary, our Mother. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic feast celebrating Mary’s conception without sin.
“An essential part of God’s plan for the mother of his Son was that she be conceived free from Original Sin. “Through the centuries the Church became ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception” (CCC, no. 491)
December 12- Our Lady of Guadalupe
On this day we celebrate our Lady of Guadalupe and remember the shrine built in her honor to spread the message that she is our loving Mother.
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” – Revelation 12:1