Today we celebrate the birth of our Holy Mother, Mary! We don’t usually celebrate the birthdays of the saints but rather we celebrate the day they died, because that is the day they were born into the joys of heaven. But the birth of Mary, our Blessed Mother, is special. We celebrate her birthday because she came into this world full of grace and because she was to be the Mother of Jesus. If we have Mary, we have Jesus. Whoever is very faithful to her is very close to the heart of Jesus. We honor Mary’s birth and life as the new Eve and co-redemptrix in our salvation history.
I found out about a great devotion to “Maria Bambina” or “Baby Mary”. In Milan there is a beautiful image of the Infant Mary referred to as “Maria Bambina”. A Franciscan nun made the statue out of wax sometime before 1730. She later gave it to others and after passing through many hands it was finally given to the Sisters of Charity in Lovere, Italy. In 1876 they brought it to their motherhouse in Milan (where it has stayed ever since). By this time, the statue had become worn and gray.
One of the nuns, Sister Josephine Woinovich, suffered from paralysis in her feet and arms. She could not get out of bed and was confined to the infirmary in great pain. In 1884, on the Feast of Mary’s Nativity, Sister Josephine convinced the Mother General to leave the statue of Maria Bambina in her room overnight. The next morning Mother decided to take the little statue on a “tour” of the infirmary, to visit all the ill sisters there.
It so happened that a very devout novice named Guilia Macaro was in the infirmary, suffering from a serious condition which restricted her movement. When the image of Maria Bambina was brought to her bed, Guilia took it in her arms and fervently pleaded with Mary to ask God to heal her. Miraculously, Guilia was healed immediately!
The image was also suddenly transformed; it lost its old gray color and took on the color of living flesh, which it still has to this day! Sister Josephine was also ultimately cured through her devotion to Maria Bambina. Because of these and many other miracles God has worked for those who venerate the statue, the Sisters of Charity in Milan are called the “Sisters of Maria Bambina”.
Our family will celebrate with cupcakes that (our) Mary made. She made white cupcakes with white icing to symbolize Our Lady’s purity and decorated them with blue sprinkles to symbolize the traditional color of Mary’s mantle.