'Mater Ecclesia' statue at Dar tal-Kleru, Birkirkara. Malta.
Pope Francis just introduced a new feast in honor of Mary, as Mother of the Church. This will be celebrated on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday. In 1964, Pope Paul VI declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother’ and established that ‘the Mother of God should be further honored and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles’. Then, in the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. In the Acts of the Apostles, we see Mary gathered with the apostles and received the Holy Spirit, whereupon the church as born on that day. Many consider the feast of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, and this feast will further emphasize that notion. With the present decree, Pope Francis inserts that celebration into the universal Church’s liturgy as a Memorial on a fixed date. A “memorial” is a lower-ranked feast day. Celebrations of feast days in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church are distinguished according to their importance and named either as solemnities, feasts or memorials. This year it will fall on May 21.