The Visitation is the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke. Mary and Elizabeth were both pregnant. When Elizabeth saw Mary, the infant (John the Baptist) leapt in her womb.
Two familiar Catholic prayers have been inspired by this story. First, in the Hail Mary, we echo the words of Elizabeth who said, “blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Then Mary responds with the words of the Magnificat in praise of the Lord.
This Visitation lesson plan will introduce the story to students and invite them to reflect on it and respond with Mary and Elizabeth in prayer.
Visitation Lesson Objectives
- Students will be able to (SWBAT) summarize the story of the Visitation.
- SWBAT explain the meaning of the words (and prayers) Mary and Elizabeth say to one another.
- Students will feel inspired to praise God for the gifts in their lives with their own Magnificat.
Visitation Lesson Activities
Present: Read the Story of the Visitation
Read the story of the Visitation together as a class: Luke 1:39–56.
You can also read this kid-version of the Visitation story from my Advent book Prepare the Way:
The Virgin Mary didn’t have to go through pregnancy alone. Her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant, with John the Baptist. From Mary’s visit with her cousin, we learn more about her calling and the significance of her unborn son.
As you read this story, pay attention to the things the Virgin Mary says about herself and her son in her prayer of praise.
The angel Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth, who everyone thought was unable to have children, was six months pregnant. Mary set out quickly to visit her cousin in the hill country.
Mary arrived at her cousin’s house and knocked at the door. When Elizabeth heard Mary, her unborn child leaped in her womb.
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How can it be that the mother of my Lord comes to me? Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord!”
Mary was moved by her cousin’s words. She offered up her own prayer of praise, saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on, all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Then she continued her prayer of praise for all the things her son would do for the world, saying, “The Lord’s mercy is for those who fear him. He separates the proud with their selfish thoughts. He brings down the powerful leaders and lifts up the lowly, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty.”
Finally, speaking of God’s people, she proclaimed, “The Lord has helped Israel, remembering his mercy according to the promise he made to Abraham and our ancestors and their descendants forever.”
Mary remained with her cousin Elizabeth for three months and then returned home.
The Visitation Summary Activity
Imagine if Mary or Elizabeth were telling their sons the story about the first meeting between them while still in the womb.
Write out what they would say to their sons in one paragraph.
Present: The Meaning of the Magnficat
Watch this video about the meaning of the words in the Virgin Mary’s Magnificat:
Meditation: The Magnificat Prayer Worksheet
Ask the students to reflect on the words of the Magnificat with these questions:
- What magnifies the Lord’s presence your life?
- What tempts you to be proud, mighty, or stronger than others?
- How can you serve others on behalf of God?
You can also download the Magnificat Worksheet with these questions here:
Visitation Prayer Activity
As a part of your Visitation lesson, invite your students to pray with the words of Elizabeth and Mary during the Visitation:
- Pray the Hail Mary, which includes the words of praise from Elizabeth during the Visitation.
- Pray the Magnificat, which includes the words of praise from Mary during the Visitation.
Then invite your students to write their own prayers of praise to the Lord.
Use the words of the Magnificat to begin these prayers:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
The Almighty has done great things for me.
He has . . . (list the great things God had done for me)
Visitation Lesson Assessment: A Text Message Visitation
Imagine if instead of physically going to go see her cousin Elizabeth, the story was recreated as a chain of text messages. Type out a series of messages between Mary and Elizabeth that shorten and summarize the exchange of words and prayers in Luke 1:39–56.
You might have the kids use a notecard (or notecards) to create a smart phone screen for the text messages.
The Visitation Activities Collection
Here is a collection of Visitation activities from other educational websites:
- Mary Visited Elizabeth Activities (Sunday School Zone)
- Mary Visits Elizabeth Group Activities (Sermons4Kids)
- Hail Mary Activities (The Religion Teacher)
- The Magnificat Lesson (Holy Family Sunday School)
- Magnificat: Mary’s Christmas Song (Ministry-to-Children)
- The Visitation Worksheet (The Religion Teacher Members)