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Pope Francis adds new Marian celebration to Church Calendar

Pope Francis presents a rose at an icon of Mary and the child Jesus as he begins his general audience in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

The Monday after Pentecost will from now on be celebrated as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church, Pope Francis has declared.

In a decree issued on Saturday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote that the new celebration will “help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.”

The Memorial will appear in all calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Marian title “Mother of the Church” has grown in popularity in recent decades. Pope Paul VI solemnly destowed the title on Mary at the end of the Second Vatican Council, although it had previously been used by Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.

The Vatican prepared a Votive Mass for the title in 1975, and several episcopal conferences have been granted permission to insert the title into the Litany of Loretto.

Some countries and dioceses have also been granted permission to add the celebration to their local calendars.

Now Pope Francis has decided to add it to the universal calendar to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

This year, the celebration will fall on May 21.