On 25 March we usually celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Incarnation to Mary. Since we are in Holy Week, the Solemnity is transferred to 8 April, the Monday after the Easter Octave. That change attests to the importance of our seasonal celebrations: this week we enter into the mystery of the Eucharist, Christ’s final suffering and death; the following week we celebrate Christ’s resurrection for eight days. This is the central mystery of our faith.
Maryland Day also falls on 25 March–an historical event celebrated only in that State, but still significant for Catholics in the USA. In 1634 two ships of Catholic colonists from England landed on the shores of what they named St. Mary’s Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Fr. Andrew White, S.J., one of their number, celebrated the first Catholic Mass in that colony when they landed. Maryland, of course, was named for Mary, the Mother of God, and was founded by Royal Charter granted to the Calvert Family, the Lords Baltimore in the old country. The Colony’s founding principle was to welcome all Christians who confessed the Trinity and Jews, the race of Jesus Christ. It was primarily a refuge for English Catholics but the Catholic character of the colony was soon enough submerged beneath leadership adhering to the Established Church of England. However, the Catholic presence remained palpable and Catholic institutions flourished in the State. The local Carroll Family yielded the Jesuit John Carroll as the first Bishop of the United States and Baltimore remains our country’s Primatial See.