2018 – Moved from 31st May
The church today recalls the visit of Elizabeth to her cousin Mary, as recorded in Luke’s gospel. The celebration of the feast first occurred at a Franciscan Order General Chapter in 1263 but quickly spread throughout Europe. Since it is a celebration clearly described in the gospel, the churches of the Reformation were less inclined to proscribe it as they were other Marian feasts, particularly as it was the occasion for Mary to sing her great hymn of praise in honour of her Lord and God. Just as Luke sees John the Baptist as the last of the prophets of the old covenant, he uses John’s leaping in Elizabeth’s womb as the first time John bears witness to Christ as the promised Messiah. Thereby he links the old covenant with the new. He seems to be saying that just as the old covenant clearly points to Jesus, so does its last prophet, yet to be born.