When Mary, pregnant with Christ, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth (who was miraculously pregnant with the Forerunner and Baptist John), Elizabeth greeted her with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is fruit of your womb.” Mary responded with a canticle of praise that echoes Hannah’s:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior, for He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth, all generations will call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
Mary is at the center of this mural as the leader of our praises. She was the first to receive the proclamation of the Gospel (“The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you”), and the first to accept it (“Let it be done to me according to your word”).
She is depicted within the Burning Bush that Moses encountered. The Church interprets the bush “that burned but was not consumed” as a type of Mary, who bore Divinity within her womb but was not consumed — although “our God is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29).
Aflame with the love of God but not consumed, even as the Three Holy Youths were not consumed in the furnace, Mary leads our thanksgiving for the Incarnation of the Son of God, the “Word made flesh” for us and for our salvation.
Mary’s canticle is sung at most Matins services.
Get the collection in a handy booklet, A Guide to the Wall of Hymnographers and Poets, by Tracey Edson, available from the parish or from Amazon.com.