Mary of Nazareth had mastery over her tongue. However, this mastery should not be misconstrued as a sign of inarticulacy. Luke recounts her Magnificat (1;46-50).
In this oration Mary expresses her previously suppressed ecstasy when her cousin Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, hailed her as the mother of God.
Set free from her silence by Elizabeth's inspired insight, Mary launched into her exultant discourse, an unusually long speech for a woman in the patriarchally-orientated society of her era, manifesting both an astonishing eloquence and an intimate knowledge of Scripture;
My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is His Name.
And His Mercy is from generation unto generation to them that fear Him.
He hath showed might in His Arm:
He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His Mercy.
As He spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Though some Biblical scholars regard this proclamation which shows a marked kinship with the Canticle of Hannah (I Kings I I:1-1), as constituting Luke's own understanding of salvation rather than as Mary's composition, there is no reason to suppose that the Blessed Virgin was unfamiliar with the Canticle of Hannah or with the other sources from which the Magnificat derives its elements.
The oration indicates that Mary was a woman of intellect, able to quote from the Scriptures and possessed of the insight to interpret the readings and correlate the prophecies of the Old Testament with the miraculous situation in which she found herself, and that moreover she was the first to ascirbe the glory which covered her to the bounty of God.
The brilliance of this powerful oration and its ancient connotations marked a unique development in the Blessed Virgin's life. In Scripture, at least, there is no recorded repetition of ecstasy. Henceforth Mary is shown to be involved in a process of personal development that was to ripen into the maturity she would need to support her Son both during His private and His public life, and at the time of His agonising death on the cross.
Though her trials would test her resources to their limit, the texts in Mary's praise that have come down to the present time establish beyond all doubt that her glorious prediction that from henceforth all generations would call her blessed has been amply fulfilled in English literature and more specifically in its poetry. Moreover, only Mary has inspired so vast a proliferation of praise verse, distributed so steadily over the centuries.
*Photograph of artwork on a noticeboard on a church taken by Catherine Nicolette. With thanks to the artist.