There are many countries around the world that has a patron saint. We all certainly know that Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. But who is the patron saint of United States? Is there even one at all? Well I will explain exactly who it is and how you can celebrate their feast day.
There are many different patron states that the United States of America could have decided upon. They chose a saint that is very popular for many countries around the world. America ultimately decided to adopt The Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) as their patron saint.
The Virgin Mary Feast Day – December 8th
Other names for this feast day include Feast of the Conception of Saint Anne, and Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When Is This Special Day?
The feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated by the Catholic Church on December 8th. Mary was born on September 8th and so December 8th was the date of her conception. It is a holy day of the Catholic faith, however it is not recognized as a holiday or even a public holiday. It is though a holiday in various countries around the world.
The Human Salvation of The Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary is the patroness of all human activity, and most specifically any positive activity. She is a patron saint for countries around, as well as professions and activities. Other countries that honor Our Lady Peace as their patron saint besides the US include Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain and Uruguay.
Mary had a very special role in human salvation, which can be clearly seen in the Gospel. She was constantly by the side of her son, Jesus, when he was on his own personal mission of salvation. Her role also included accepting Christ into her womb and offering him to God at the Temple. She urged her son to perform his first miracle and even wanted to join Christ at his crucifixion.
These acts alone showed that she redeemed the human race together with Christ, as described by Pope Benedict XV in 1918.
As Mary was known for her kindness she has been made a patron saint for professions such as blood donors, nuns, mothers and virgins, but also bicyclists and fishermen to name but a few. Is she your patron saint?
But what is this Immaculate Conception that I am referring to The Virgin Mary? Well, I will be coming to that in the next section, but suffice it to say it is one of four depictions as you were of The Virgin Mary. Let me explain!
The Four Dogmas of The Virgin Mary
There are four different Catholic dogmas when it comes to The Virgin Mary. These dogmas are described as a definitive article of faith (de fide). These dogmas may have been solemnly promulgated by members of the church, i.e. bishops within a council. Or maybe by the pope when conducting a speech where he presents a particular doctrine for that Catholic faith.
I hope I didn’t lose you all with that description of a dogma?!
So there are four different dogmas when it comes to The Virgin Mary. Each one of these declares Mary’s personal relationship with God and also her role in human salvation. I will not define each of these four different dogmas except for the one that has been chosen by the United States, the Immaculate Conception.
I fear that I would only lose you further if I described these three other dogmas. So I will only concentrate on the one that the United States decided upon.
But here are the four dogmas of The Virgin Mary:
- Divine Motherhood
- Perpetual Virginity
- Immaculate Conception
- The Assumption
The Story of Our Lady Peace
The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus Christ. Her mother was Saint Anne and was born by normal biological means. Mary was free from original sin by the virtue of what her son would achieve. God acted upon Mary’s soul and so kept it immaculate.
We must not confuse this Immaculate Conception of Mary with that of her son Jesus. After all Christ was born on December 25th, and the feast day of The Virgin Mary is December 8th. Two different dates!
The archangel of revelation, Gabriel, was sent by God to inform her of his plan. God’s plan for Mary was for her to serve as Jesus’s mother on Earth.
It is believed that Mary was sinless and that she had an immaculate soul. This doctrine of belief was not defined until 1854 by Pope Pius IX. The original definition of the Immaculate Conception refers that Mary was preserved from any stain.
The Roman Catholic definition though states:
That the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.
The doctrine teaches us that she received sanctifying grace after she was baptised. This definition though does not clarify whether Mary was free from actual or personal sin.
What To Do On This Special Day?
As this is a holiday celebrating the redemption of Christ, (being brought into the world and sacrificing himself to God), many people will attend church. Certain readings from Genesis, Psalm, Espesians and Luke will be read out.
However, Catholics need not attend Mass if this holy day falls on a Saturday or a Monday. The United States and other countries that observe The Virgin Mary as their patron saint have been given permission if this is the case. Despite this confusion with Catholics as to whether to attend or not the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day.
There is one more confusion though regarding when to celebrate The Virgin Mary. And that is what if December 8th falls on a Sunday. Well surprisingly the Solemnity is then transferred to the Monday. Confusing yes?
What if The Virgin Mary is not my saint?
Even if The Virgin Mary is not the patron saint of your country I believe that you should celebrate it in some way. If you are Catholic then you can attend Mass at your local church. I am not a religious person but I must confess I still find beauty in the architecture of these buildings and visit them from time to time.
It is not only an opportunity to visit and admire these buildings but also to discover my ancestors. After all I am a genealogist and that’s what I do. I visit cemeteries looking for my ancestors graves. Morbid hey? Not really, I do that so that I can check readings on their graves and also just to visit where my ancestors grew up, worked and lived.
So, if you are not religious then why not spend this time to research your family history. You could visit their church or the area in which your ancestors lived. Or if this is not possible then you could just stay at home, think of them there and also get to know them through researching them.
Were your ancestors Catholic or even religious?
Who knows maybe they were Catholic and they did celebrate the feast day of The Virgin Mary. Or they may have been devoted to a different faith. Why not find out which one it was and learn about your family tree.
I believe that religion is another area of research for the genealogist. We as family historians look up their details such as names and dates of important events, as well as occupations, newspaper articles and so on.
So why should discovering their religious beliefs be any different? No different at all from what I can tell you. They would have attended church for important occasions such as baptisms, marriages and also the burial of a relative or friend. Religion after all is what made them who they were and it would have been an important part of their life and the decisions that they made.
If it were not for their life choices then we would not be here today. Yes?
If you have American friends then why not show them your knowledge of their patron saint. You might surprise them with the information on this page. Please share this post, I encourage you.
So why not research your American ancestors on this day? You can use the many tips and guides found on this site to begin your family history journey. There is just so much that you will discover and who knows it may quite surprise you. So take the first step today!
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