Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 17 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Anthony of Egypt
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Turn to Our Lady of Expectation for the last graces of Advent


Sharon Mollerus | Flickr CC BY 2.0

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 12/18/20

She is celebrated on a uniquely named day: The Feast of the O.

As explained in this article, the Church, specifically the local church in Spain, historically celebrated a fascinating feast on December 18 called “The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” It can be traced back to the 7th century and was originally the feast of the Annunciation.

The feast especially invites the faithful to envision what it was like to be the Blessed Virgin Mary, about to give birth to the Savior of the world.

But naturally, to accompany this feast, there is devotion to Our Lady of Expectation.

Benedict XVI spoke of her with this title in a prayer: O Mary, Virgin of expectation and Mother of hope, revive the spirit of Advent in your entire Church …

One image of her is in a parish of St. James the Apostle in Seville, Spain. It traces back to the early 17th century, when María de Guzmán, daughter of the dukes of Olivares, was expecting her third child after having lost her first two babies shortly after their births. Her parents entreated Our Lady, under this advocation, for the life of their wee grandchild, founding a Franciscan convent with this image.

Our Lady is kneeling, dressed in lovely tones of red and orange, and a small circle on her womb is as a window, revealing to us the tiny Jesus inside. The sweet expression on her face shows the anticipation she has for the imminent arrival of the Child.

Other images can be found throughout Spain. In Valencia, for example, we find Our Lady of Expectation with the sun on her garment, which stretches over her enlarged womb. Others show her simply resting her hand on her swollen womb, in a typical pose for a pregnant mother.

Our Lady of La Leche Chapel

Read more:
This Florida chapel dedicated to a nursing Virgin Mary is now a National Shrine

An interesting twist to this devotion is that she is also known as Our Lady of the O, and her December 18 feast day, the Feast of the O.

This of course comes from the fact that on December 18, the Church has just begun to pray with the O Antiphons.

The great O Antiphons –– seven antiphons, or short chants, are sung at the beginning of the Magnificat each evening at Vespers (Evening Prayer) from December 17 through December 23. 

The O Antiphons have been chanted in the Church since at least the 8th century. There are many levels to the symbolism and foreshadowing of the antiphons. Individually, they each speak on their own, addressing our Lord by a different title or name given to him in Old Testament prophecies, imploring him to come and save his people. These antiphons are called the “O Antiphons” because each chant begins with great cry, “O …” :

O Sapientia — O Wisdom
O Adonai — O Lord
O Radix Jesse — O Root of Jesse
O Clavis David — O Key of David
O Oriens — O Dayspring
O Rex Gentium — O King of the Nations
O Emmanuel — O God with Us

So as we head into these last days of Advent, we call on the Virgin of Expectation and Mother of Hope, the Lady of the O, and ask her to intercede for us, that we might embrace her Son with the same fervor that she has.

Read more:
Pope: Christmas with restrictions? Mary and Joseph’s Christmas wasn’t a rose garden


Read more:
Pope adds ‘Mother of Hope’ to Litany of Mary, along with two other new titles

Read more:
Teaming with St. Joseph at Advent’s end

Virgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.