Thursday, 2 July 2015
The feast of the Visitation of the BVM is a Double of the Second Class and its liturgical colour is white. The feast commemorates the Visitation made by the BVM to her cousin Elizabeth (c.f. Luke 1: 39-80). The feast originated as a concession to the Franciscans at the request of St. Bonaventure in 1263. Urban VI in 1389 confirmed the celebration of the feast with an Octave on July 2nd. Boniface IX in 1390, the Council of Basle in 1441 and Nicholas V in 1451 confirmed the feast but not the Octave, according to the notes of the Pian Commission. In the 1550 Breviary it became a double feast as it also appeared in the Tridentine Breviary, with a partially new Office in 1569. Clement VIII made the feast a greater double in the 1604 BR and Pius IX made it a double of the second class in 1850. The modern reformers couldn't cope with the feast on the day following the Octave Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist finding this illogical and moved it to 31st May. The Byzantines keep the feast, which was only introduced in the nineteenth century, on March 30th.
The feast begins with Mattins (Vespers having been of the Feast of the Precious Blood with a commemoration of the Visitation. The invitatory is proper, Visitationem Virginis Mariae celebremus: Christum ejus Filium adoremus Dominum. The Office hymn, antiphons and psalms are from the Common of the BVM. In the first nocturn the antiphons Benedicta tu etc are sung with Pss. 8, 18 & 23. The lessons are taken from the Canticle of Canticles. In the second nocturn the antiphons Specie tua etc are sung with Pss. 44, 45 & 86. The lessons are from a homily of St. John Chrysostom. In the third nocturn the antiphons Gaude, Maria Virgo etc are sung with Pss. 95, 96 & 97. The homily is from St. Ambrose on St. Luke's Gospel. The ninth lesson is of SS Processus and Martinian. At Lauds the antiphons Exsurgens Maria etc are sung with the Sunday psalms, the Office hymn is from the Common, O gloriosa virginum, and the antiphon on the Benedictus is proper, Cum audisset etc. A commemoration is sung of SS Processus and Martinian (but not of the Octave of SS Peter and Paul).
At Prime and the Hours the hymns are sung to the melody of the Incarnation and with its Doxology. The antiphons from Lauds are sung with the Sunday psalms. At Prime the festal psalms (53, 118i & 118ii) are sung, in the short responsory the versicle Qui natus es is sung, the lectio brevis is In plateis.
Mass is sung after Terce. The Mass Salve sancte parens is sung, the Gloria is sung, in private Masses a commemoration is made of SS Processus and Martinian, the Creed is sung and the preface is of the BVM.
At Vespers the antiphons Exsurgens Maria etc are sung with the psalms from the Common of the BVM, Pss. 109, 112, 121, 126 & 147. The Office hymn is Ave, maris stella. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the following feast of St. Leo.
In the 'liturgial books of 1962' at Mattins the ninth lesson of SS Processus and Martinian is suppressed. At the Hours the ferial antiphons and psalms are sung, the hymns do not have the Doxology of the Incarnation. At Prime the short lesson is of the season. At Vespers there are no commemorations.