One of Palestrina’s compositions of Alma Redemptoris Mater, the Marian antiphon for Advent.
Text in Latin and English
Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator!
- Alma Redemptoris Mater, the Marian antiphon of Advent
Madonna del Parto
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas. The above image of Mary during her pregnancy is venerated in Montefiesole, Italy.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis
A statue of Mary pregnant above the entrance to a chapel in Würzburg, Germany.
Without pain thou givest birth, Virgin Mary (Star) of the Sea.
An image of Mary during her pregnancy from the Czech Republic.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday. The day takes its name from the first word of the introit of today’s Mass:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.
A 17th century engraving of an image of Mary pregnant in the Augustinian church in Prague, Czech Republic.
In English this type of image is usually referred to as Our Lady of Expectation.
The Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung in the Catholic Church from the first Sunday of Advent, which is today, until Candlemas.
Loving Mother of our Savior, hear thou thy people’s cry. Star of the deep and Portal of the sky! Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made. Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid: Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee, Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
You carried Christ in the little cloister of your womb, Most sweet Mother.
Mary, you brought forth a Son that the heavens could not contain.
- Litany of Our Lady, Queen of the Seraphic Order
Our Lady of Expectation
In this painting Mary is depicted at the centre of the Christian salvation story. She is pregnant with Christ, symbolised by the IHS. She is also in the presence of God the Father (the triangle) and the Holy Spirit (the dove).
With her right foot Mary crushes the head of the old serpert, a symbol of Satan and all evil.
Today is the last Sunday of Advent, which is known as Rorate Sunday. This is the introitus of today’s Mass.
This introitus is also sung at the beginning of Rorate Masses, which are special Advent celebrations in honour of Mary.
Especially in German speaking countries it has been a long standing tradition to celebrate this votive Mass in the early hours of the morning during Advent. Since the Second Vatican Counsil the Mass can also be celebrated in the evening.
Bedew us, heavens, from above; ye clouds, rain down the Just One. Let the earth be opened up, and produce the Saviour. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament declares the work of His hands.