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Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Commemorated on January 23
Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In traditional Catholic usage, the parents of Jesus were said to be betrothed or espoused, rather than married, in accord with the doctrine that their union was never consummated. French theologian Jean Gerson was the first to propose a liturgical feast to honor the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, in 1416. Over the next two centuries, various communities began to celebrate the Espousal on different dates. In the 1600s, some Polish confraternities chose the date of January 23, which Benedict XIII designated for the commemoration in the Papal States in 1725. The Espousal was never made a universal Catholic feast day, but was celebrated on January 23 in some dioceses in the United States, Brazil, and France and by the Stigmatines and other orders; while in Spain and Latin America, the feast moved to November 26 to avoid conflict with that of St. Ildephonsus. Now only a very few communities, such as the Oblates of St. Joseph, have permission to say the mass of the Desponsatio, whose preface begins, "You give the Church the joy of celebrating the feast of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph: in her, full of grace and worthy Mother of your Son, you signify the beginning of the Church..."

Source: http://www.wherewewalked.info/feasts/01-January/january_23.htm
"Feasts of St. Joseph," Oblates of St. Joseph, www.osjoseph.org/stjoseph/liturgy/partA.php#a5
Espousal of Mary and Joseph, altarpiece in the Church of the Stigmatines, Verona, Italy, c1820, artist unknown, from www.estigmatinos.com.br. 

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