Written by ton nocellado
Our beloved Founder, St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia had singular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Bambinella or the Child Mary. One of the testimonies given for the cause of his canonization affirmed that the Child Mary was the poetry of his heart. The Founder himself deemed it necessary to his sons and daughters-the Rogationists and the Daughters of Divine Zeal to have a solemn celebration of the feast by preparing a triduum, procession, sermons and vigil on the eve. It was a one of St. Hannibal’s dearest forms of piety as he was madly in love with the Bambinella. So much so that at the end of this saint’s earthly life, the Child Mary assured him of her love and protection.
Did you know how this devotion gets into the traditions of the Rogationists and Daughters of Divine Zeal? In the book The Father’s Soul, Fr. Teodoro Tusino narrated the unexpected event that led into the introduction of this beautiful Marian Feast in our tradition.
The story of the devotion to Mary Bambinella was connected with the Daughters of Divine Zeal’s house in Taormina which was later on dedicated to her. A beehive was given by Fr. Antonio Catanese to the community of the sisters. One day, when the community noticed that the beehive was empty, the Mother Superior reported it to Fr. Hannibal who the latter just smiled at the news. Coincidentally, a sister in-charge of the sacristy happened to find a little statue in unrecognizable state and mistook it for St. Anthony. The sister brought it to Fr. Hannibal just when the Mother Superior was informing about the empty beehive. As soon as Fr. Hannibal saw the little statue, he recognized it as image of Mary Bambinella. Fr. Hannibal took the occasion to draw parallelism between the empty hive and little image as he said, “The Bambinella is the queen bee and we are the bees.” Immediately, St. Hannibal had the image restored and the sisters dressed it as fit for a queen. From that time on, in all communities of St. Hannibal, this beautiful feast of the Mary Bambinella or the Child Mary had been celebrated with great solemnity recognizing how dear this devotion to the St. Hannibal and to his two congregations. (p. 338)
In the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, this Feast of Bambinella or Child Mary is being celebrated every year on September 8, which is commonly known as the Birthday of Mama Mary. Let us then consider some important points of reflection on Virgin Mary drawing out from the Devotion of St. Hannibal in celebrating this beautiful feast of Mary Bambinella. In the Triduum for the feast, the Virgin Mary is given illustrious titles corresponding her singular role in God’s wonderful plan.
Mary as the Daughter of the Eternal Father. Being the privileged daughter, God willed that Child Mary to be Immaculately Conceived so as preserved her from any stain of sin in view of her important role on God’s plan of Salvation. She became then God’s masterpiece of creation as he enriched Mary with the fullness of grace and inflamed her with the divine love.
Mary as the Mother of God. As Christians, we give the highest veneration to Mary as much as she is the Mother of God-the Theotokos. In God’s eternal plan, the Eternal Word who is Jesus has chosen the Immaculate Child Mary to be his mother and adore her with all the graces. As a mother, she spent her entire life with Jesus unto his suffering, death on the cross and finally to receive the good news of the resurrection.
Mary as the Virgin Spouse of the Holy Spirit. From the time Mary expressed her Fiat, the Holy Spirit welcomed her to be the spouse and clothed her with graces and goodness. Later on, in the Pentecost Mary stood by the apostles as Holy Spirit descended upon them. She became then the Mother and Model of all the followers of Christ.
With our celebration of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, let us then be filled with joy knowing that she brought the dawn of hope and salvation to the world. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Model of all Christians as she is the Humble Handmaid and the Obedient Daughter of the Father, the Caring and Faithful Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord be blessed now and forever, through Mary!!!