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Nativity of the Holy Virgin

In the city of Nazareth there dwelled a God-fearing elderly couple, Joachim, from the house of David, and Anna, from the priestly tribe of Aaron. In those days Hebrews, awaiting the Messiah, believed that any one who did not have children had in some way offended God and was being punished by having no descendants to be part of the Messiah's kingdom. Joachim and Anna grieved greatly because they were childless. Despite the ridicule and reproaches that Joachim and Anna received from their neighbors, they did not lose hope but continually prayed that God might grant them a child, which they promised to dedicate to the service of God. For their patience, their faith and their love of God and of each other, their prayers were heard: a daughter was born to them in their old age. An angel directed them to name the child Mary, which in Hebrew means "lady and hope." The one who was to be the Mother of God was born into a righteous family, known more throughout the generations for its goodness than for its royal blood. The importance of this feast, the first in the Church calendar year (which begins September 1/14) is that it was the first step in preparing mankind for its promised salvation.

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