Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Virgin Mary - Stella Maris

NASA image of the Polaris system in 2006 

Stella maris is the North Star, Polaris, alpha Ursae Minoris.It consists of three stars, a supergiant six times larger than Sun and two smaller companions. 

Because it is near to the celestial north pole it shows approximately the direction towards north.  Since Stella polaris does not appear to us to rotate on the sky like other stars during the night it has been of crucial importance to navigators especially at open seas, hence Stella maris, the Star of the Sea. It has also been called "steadfast star", "guiding star" and in German "Leitsterne".

"In traditional Indian astronomy, its name is Sanskrit dhruva tāra, literally "fixed star". Its name in medieval Islamic astronomy was variously reported as Mismar "needle, nail", al-kutb al-shamaliyy "the northern axle/spindle", al-kaukab al-shamaliyy "north star". (wikipedia)

Virgin Mary
Fixed, steady, guiding star - so a fitting symbol for Mary, Mother of Jesus who received it in 9th century liturgy. Another stellar epithet to this Jewish woman known as Stella maris in addition to Queen of Heaven and Stella manutis, the Morning Star.

"Our Lady, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The words Star of the Sea are a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris, first reliably used with relation to the Virgin Mary in the ninth century.

The title was used to emphasize Mary's role as a sign of hope and as a guiding star for Christians, especially gentiles, whom the Old Testament Israelites metaphorically referred to as the sea, meaning anyone beyond the "coasts", or, that is to say, sociopolitical, and religious (Mosaic law), borders of Israelite territory.

Under this title, the Virgin Mary is believed to intercede as a guide and protector of those who travel or seek their livelihoods on the sea. This aspect of the Virgin has led to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, being named as patroness of the Catholic missions to seafarers, the Apostleship of the Sea, and to many coastal churches being named Stella Maris or Mary, Star of the Sea. This devotion towards Our Lady with this ancient title is very popular throughout the Catholic world." (wikipedia)

Ave Maris Stella
The beautiful celestial titles for Virgin Mary have inspired also some extraordinary music often heard during vespers in the evening.

Ave, maris stella,
Dei mater alma,
atque semper virgo,
felix cœli porta.
Hail, star of the sea,
Nurturing Mother of God,
And ever Virgin
Happy gate of Heaven.
Sumens illud «Ave»
Gabrielis ore,
funda nos in pace,
mutans Evæ nomen.
Receiving that "Ave From the mouth of Gabriel,
Establish us in peace,
Transforming the name of "Eva".
Solve vincla reis,
profer lumen cæcis,
mala nostra pelle,
bona cuncta posce.
Loosen the chains of the guilty,
Send forth light to the blind,
Our evil do thou dispel,
Entreat (for us) all good things.
Monstra te esse matrem,
sumat per te precem
qui pro nobis natus
tulit esse tuus.
Show thyself to be a Mother:
Through thee may he receive prayer
Who, being born for us,
Undertook to be thine own.
Virgo singularis,
inter omnes mitis,
nos culpis solutos
mites fac et castos.
O unique Virgin,
Meek above all others,
Make us, set free from (our) sins,
Meek and chaste.
Vitam præsta puram,
iter para tutum,
ut videntes Jesum
semper collætemur.
Bestow a pure life,
Prepare a safe way:
That seeing Jesus,
We may ever rejoice.
Sit laus Deo Patri,
summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto
honor, tribus unus. Amen.
Praise be to God the Father,
To the Most High Christ (be) glory,
To the Holy Spirit
(Be) honour, to the Three equally. Amen.

We may well say that Monteverdi's Ave Maris Stella in his Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 is literally heavenly!

Listen those amazing nine minutes in youTube

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