Of the four evangelists, it is Luke who most frequently evokes Mary by name and in events — 12 times. Matthew refers to her on five occasions, while Mark and John use an event in her life, but not her name. (According to old tradition, the name Mary means “wise woman.”) The synoptic gospels (meaning “together with” from the Greek) contain many of the same stories, but the term was only recently used since the 1780s. Mark, Matthew and Luke use similar stories with some distinct differences.The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated August 15, is the oldest Marian feast in the Church, dating to the fourth and fifth centuries, and established as official by Pope Leo IV in the ninth century. And it is the basis for the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — the Visitation, to which the Gospel on this special feast day refers.Found only in Luke, the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, culminating in the marvelous tribute known as the “Magnificat,” focuses on the pertinent events of Mary’s journey from Nazareth to a town in Judea (or Judah). Archangel Gabriel has informed Mary that she has been chosen to bear “a child whom you will name Jesus … and your relative [though considerably older] has also conceived a child, for nothing is impossible with God.” Soon after, the text only refers to “in those days,” as Mary set out “with haste” to see her cousin in her final term of pregnancy. From her small village, west of the Sea of Galilee, to a place in the hill country of Judea would have been a distance of some 80 to 100 miles. The journey of eight to 10 days was both dangerous and arduous, walking through rocky terrain, but Mary acted with courage and determination to follow God’s plan.Luke’s Gospel relates the awe-filled meeting between the women that inspired Elizabeth to wonder how “the mother of my Lord should come to me.” Mary’s response — her canticle — has echoed through the ages and remains an exultant hymn of praise and gratitude, set to music by countless composers from Johann Sebastian Bach to John Michael Talbot (and, of local interest, by Father John Schiavone, for the 1987 Papal Mass at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum).In her hymn, Mary proclaims “the greatness of the Lord,” including all that God has done “in every generation,” showing mercy to those who fear him.“The Almighty,” she exults, “has done great things for me — and holy is his Name.”