According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Mary left Nazareth at the end of March before Christ's birth and went over the mountains to the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias in Hebron, south of Jerusalem. Upon their meeting, the two mothers and the blessed children they carried embraced each other in joy! Nothing else ever written has better captured the love, faith, and rejoicing of that moment--or of God's infinite mercy and love toward us--than the telling of that story in the Gospel of Luke:
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name. And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:39-50)Although the Feast of the Visitation is officially set in the Roman Catholic Church at the end of May, this blessed event should be remembered and celebrated at Christmas time as well. Let us resolve to receive our family, friends, and all whom we meet in the same spirit as did Mary and Elizabeth--this Christmas and every day of the year!