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cation at Constantinople. S. Elias erected one at Jerusalem, in 501, and began another which the emperor Justinian finished.
Our Blessed Ladye, Saint Mary, is generally represented with the Divine Child in her arms, and crowned with a nimbus or circle of glory. All the great Catholic painters have delighted to hallow their exalted genius by pourtraying her in the varying circumstances of her history. And to the pure in heart among them have doubtless often been granted conceptions of a grace and matchless beauty, in their ideal of the holy Mother-Maid, which imaginations of a high order, but less purified and chastened, could never reach. No stronger proof of this is needed than a comparison between the earlier and later compositions of Raphael.
The lily, or fleur-de-lis, is an ancient emblem of the lowliness and spotless purity of the Blessed Virgin. It still adorns the brow of the sovereign of England, on the royal crown, alternately with the image of the Redeemer's cross. The name of Mary is given to the infant daughters of the Catholic Church in the sacrament of regeneration; and it is still even to worldly hearts the most engaging, though the commonest, of names. Churches without number are dedicated to God in her honour, and we are hourly reminded of her in the streets and lanes of old Catholic cities. In Scotland, a curious perversion of the devotion of other times to her remains in the superstitious prejudice against marrying in the month of May. For it was formerly held sacred in Britain to the holy Virgin, as it still is in many countries. I will not trust myself to describe the ardent
devotion with which so many holy souls now at rest cherished the memory of S. Mary. Neither will I contrast our coldness with the living and burning love of past ages and of other Churches. We have elsewhere contemplated her as the queen of a glorious company of virgins and devoted women, who surmounted the weakness of their condition, and appeared as miracles of grace, to men who knew not the secret charm which allured them onward to deeper and more entire self-forgetfulness, and a closer imitation of her blessed example. Let us then "who still sigh and weep in this valley of tears," unite our voices with the joyful greeting of the Church universal, and say, in the language of holy Scripture, Ave Maria! gratiá plena, Dominus tecum; Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus Fructus ventris tui, Jesus! Hail, Mary! full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
"And forasmuch as is that blyssed greetinge of the angel Gabriel," says an author lately cited, "wherewith we honoure and greete our Ladye, every day sounded in the Gospel, therefore I shal telle thee somewhat more here of all methinketh wold stir thy devocion the more in sayinge of that greetynge, Ave Maria. This greetinge in manner as holy Churche hath ordeyned it to be saide hath five parts, in the which mot be understoode specially the five joyes of our Ladye, and in the five joyes the five virtues that she had sovereynly above all erthely creatures; which be these, meeknesse, chastite, faith, hope, and charite.
"In the first parte of this greetinge, that standeth in these words, Hail Marye! thou mayest understonde
the first joye that she had in her annunciation of the gracious conceivinge of Jesu, of the which meekenesse was the grounde, as thou hast heard byfore. And as these wordes, Hail Marie! be the first and the begynnynge of this greetinge, so this feste was the begynnynge and the grounde of all others. And as it was the begynnynge of Mary's joye, and alle mankynde's, so is mekenesse the begynnynge and grounde of all vertues, and therefore in these first wordes skilfully thou mayest understonde the first joye that she had in her annunciation of the conceivynge of her blessed Sone Jesu, and that specially through the vertue of mekenesse.
"In the second part, that standeth in these words, Full of grace, may we understonde the second joye that Mary had in Jesus' nativitie in her joyful berynge, in the which she had sovereynly the virtue of chastite, and of purite; and therefor was she specially full of grace in that she, chaste Maiden and Modere, bare without sorrow, that never did woman but she alonely.
"In the third parte, that is in these wordes, Our Lord is with thee, may we understonde the joye that she had in her Son Jesu His glorious uprisinge, specially by the virtue of stedfast faith and true byleve; for from His dethe, into that tyme, He dwelt alonely with her by stedfast byleve that she had in Him as God, when that alle His Apostles and disciples were departed from Hym by unbyleve and despayre that He was God. And therefor the faith of Holy Churche for three daies stode alonely in her. So that in that tyme it might specially be seide to her, Oure Lorde is
with thee; and after His uprisinge more specially by His bodily presence to her.
"In the fourthe parte, that is in these words, Blessed be thou in women, or, above alle women, may we understonde the fourth joye that she had in the sight of her Son Jesu myghtily to hevene upflyinge, in the whiche sight the hope that she had in His Godhede was fully strengthened and confirmed, seeinge that other women never did, to wit, that part that He toke of her flesh and blood bodily through the myght of the Godhede borne up to hevene, and so hoping withouten drede that she would followe after. Well then myght it be said that time, and nowe may to hir, Blessed be thou sovereynly in women, seeinge thy Son Jesu mightily upflying to heaven.
'In the fifth parte, that is, Blessed be the Froyt of thy wombe Jesu, may we understonde the last joye, the joye that she had in her blessed Son Jesu, when He toke her up to blisse with Him, and then worshipfully crowned her queene of hevene everlastingly. Then was her desire to love fulfilled, when she was endlessly, through plenite of charite, knyt to her blessed Son Jesu, and He to her; and so fedde with a blyssed fruit, that she coveted no more, for she was therethrough filled of goodenesse, blisse, and joye withouten ende.
"And if thee list in this greetynge specially the five joyes with the five virtues byforesaide, thou mayest say thus in short wordes; Haille Marye, Maiden mekest, greeted of the aungel Gabriel; in Jesus' gracious conceyvinge, full of grace; Ah! Moder chaste, without sorrowe or paine, thy Son be ever
blessed; our Lorde is and was with thee, by true faith at Jesus' glorious uprisinge; Blessed be thou sovereynly in women, in sad hope seeinge thy Son Jesu to hevene myghtely upflyinge; and blessed be the Froit of thy wombe, Jesu; in everlastinge blisse through perfect charite the queene of hevene gloriously goveryninge. Give us these vertues for our spede to thy Sone Jesu, and thy plesynge. Be thou our helpe in all oure neede, and socoure in our last endynge. Amen'."
Ave Maria! Mother Blest,
To whom caressing and caressed,
Ave Maria! Thou whose name
Yet may we reach thy shrine;
With love and joy like thine.
Blest is the womb that bare Him-blest
Who hear His word and keep it well,
The living homes where Christ shall dwell,
And never pass away.
Christian Year, p. 317.
1 Mirrour of the Life of Christ, Ch. iii. MS. Adv. Lib. Edin.