Les Vendanges / The Wine Harvest,
Wool & Silk Tapestry,
Original executed around 1500, later version shown,
© Cluny Museum, France

Les Vendanges / The Wine Harvest,
Wool & Silk Tapestry,
Original executed around 1500, later version shown,
© Cluny Museum, France

Gospel of 8 September 2020

The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
'Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel', which means, 'God is with us.'

Reflection on the Tapestry

Today we celebrate the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, exactly nine months after the 8th of December celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anne. Saint Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic importance. He also said it was a necessary prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. "She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley" he wrote.

Our Lady occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, as she was given the highest mission ever commended to any human being. In France there is a centuries-old tradition which is linked to this feast. As the 8th of September can be considered the end of the summer and beginning of autumn, there is a blessing of the summer harvest given and of seeds for fall planting on this day. The winegrowers in France called this feast 'Our Lady of the Grape Harvest'. The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary.

Our Medieval tapestry depicts such a wine harvest taking place around the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the right we see the harvesting of the grapes and on the left we see the grapes being pressed into wine. The two noblemen, probably owners of the vineyard, are coming to have a first taste of the newly pressed wine.

O Mary, Mother most merciful, pray for us.

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