Each year the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and recalls Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. The event is recorded in Luke 1:39-57. Feeling the presence of his Savior, John leaped within the womb of his mother Elizabeth upon Mary’s arrival; John was then filled with the grace of God.
The Feast of Visitation was first commemorated in the beginning of the 13th century, when St. Bonaventure recommended it, and the Franciscan chapter adopted it. The Franciscan breviary spread it to many churches, but it was only universally adopted in the 14th century, when Pope Urban VI extended it.
May 31st is also the Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. Concerning the title of Mediatrix, Fr. Reginald Garrigou‑Lagrange, O.P. discusses the office of mediator:
“The office of mediator belongs fully only to Jesus, the Man‑God, Who alone could reconcile us with God by offering Him, on behalf of men, the infinite sacrifice of the Cross, which is perpetuated in Holy Mass. He alone, as Head of mankind, could merit for us in justice the grace of salvation and apply it to those who do not reject His saving action. It is as man that He is mediator, but as a Man in Whom humanity is united hypostatically to the Word and endowed with the fullness of grace, the grace of Headship, which overflows on men. As St. Paul puts it: ‘For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave Himself for a redemption for all, a testimony in due times’ (I Tim. ii, 56). “
But, St. Thomas adds: ‘there is no reason why there should not be, after Christ, other secondary mediators between God and men, who co‑operate in uniting them in a ministerial and dispositive manner.’ Such mediators dispose men for the action of the principal Mediator, or transmit it, but always in dependence on His merits.”
St. John Vianney: “All the saints have a great devotion to Our Lady: no grace comes from Heaven without passing through her hands. We cannot go into a house without speaking to the doorkeeper. Well, the Holy Virgin is the doorkeeper of Heaven.”
When Zachary had doubted the promise of the Lord that Elizabeth would bear a child, he was struck speechless. Elizabeth was thereafter visited by Mary, at which time Mary spoke the hymn of praise now known at the Magnificat. By divine providence, it was upon John’s birth that Zachary’s speech was restored. While this is all that is known in the Scriptures, an older tradition remains that states that Zachary was later murdered in the Temple when he refused to tell Herod where his son John was to be found.
Both St. Elizabeth and St. Zachary’s feast days are on November 5th.