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Visitation (Christianity)

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DARET Jacques Visitation

"Visitation", from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret, c. 1435.
(Staatliche Museen, Berlin.)

The Visitation is the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Elizabeth as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 1:39-56. It is also the term for a Christian feast day commemorating this visit, celebrated on 31 May in the West (2 July in calendars of the 1263-1969 period) and 30 March in the East.


Mary, having heard at the Annunciation that Elizabeth was six months pregnant, left her home to visit her. Elizabeth and John the Baptist were inspired by the Holy Spirit at her arrival, and Elizabeth prophesied. John jumped inside of Elizabeth because he knew that the Lord was in the room. Mary pronounced the "Magnificat" and remained with Elizabeth for about three months.[1]

A series of articles on
Mary header

mother of Jesus

Presentation of Mary
Annunciation · Visitation · Virgin Birth · Nativity · Presentation of Jesus · Flight into Egypt · Finding in the Temple · Cana · Crucifixion · Resurrection · Pentecost

Marian Perspectives
Anglican • Eastern Orthodox • Muslim • Protestant • Roman Catholic

Catholic Mariology
MariologyHistory of MariologyPapal teachingsMariology of the saints

Dogmas and Doctrines
Mother of GodPerpetual virginityImmaculate ConceptionAssumption

Mary in Culture

In art it is a regular component of cycles of scenes from the Life of the Virgin. It is the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, with the theme of "Spiritual Fruit and Love of Neighbor".


Western Christianity

This feast is of medieval origin. It was kept by the Franciscan Order before 1263 when Saint Bonaventure recommended it and the Franciscan chapter adopted it. The Franciscan Breviary spread it to many churches. In 1389 Pope Urban VI, hoping thereby to obtain an end to the Great Western Schism, inserted it in the Roman Calendar, for celebration on 2 July.[2] In the Tridentine Calendar it was a Double. When that Missal of Pope Pius V was replaced by that of Pope Clement VIII in 1604, the Visitation became a Double of the Second Class, and remained so until Pope John XXIII reclassified it as a Second-Class Feast in 1962.[3] It continued to be assigned to 2 July, just over a week after the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, who was still in his mother's womb at the time of the Visitation, until in 1969 Pope Paul VI moved it to 31 May, "between the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (25 March) and that of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), so that it would harmonize better with the Gospel story."[4]

Roman Catholics who use a pre-1969 calendar and Anglicans who use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer celebrate the feast on 2 July.

Eastern Christianity

Icon 03074 Poseschenie Elizavety Mariej

Ukrainian painting of the Visitation.

The celebration of a feast day commemorating this event in the Eastern Orthodox Church is of relatively recent origin, dating only to the 19th century. The impetus to establish a feast day in the Liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church, and the composition of a service to be included in the Menaion were the work of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin (†1894), head of the Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. The Gorneye Convent in Jerusalem, which was built on the traditional site of the Meeting of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) and St. Elizabeth, celebrates this Feast on 30 March. (Julian Calendar 30 March corresponds, until 2099, to Gregorian Calendar 12 April.) If 30 March falls between Lazarus Saturday and Pascha (Easter), the Visitation Feast is transferred to Bright Friday. Celebration of the Feast of the Visitation has not yet been accepted by all Orthodox jurisdictions.

See also


  1. Lk 1:56
  2. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 19690, p. 93
  3. 2nd Class
  4. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 128

External links

is:Þingmaríumessali:Maria Visitatie hu:Látogatás (kereszténység)ja:エリザベト訪問 no:Maria Besøkelsesdag nn:Maria besøksdag pt:Visitação ru:Встреча Марии и Елизаветы sv:Jungfru Marie besökelsedag th:การประกาศของพระแม่มารี wa:Notru-Dame del plovinete

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