Mothering Sunday – What are its origins within the church? 

Each year on the fourth Sunday of Lent, countries worldwide celebrate Mothering Sunday. This typically involves lavishing mothers with gifts and attention whilst celebrating the women who have nurtured us throughout our lives. But how many of us know its true origins? 

Like many of our traditions, Mothering Sunday began within the church and was heavily associated with the Feast of the Annunciation – a celebration that marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, in which she was told she would be the mother of Jesus Christ. 

It was around the 16th century that these traditions began, with people making the journey back to their ‘mother’ church once a year to remain in touch with the community that raised and nurtured them. A ‘mother’ church was typically the church in which one was baptised or the local parish church of the area they grew up in and symbolised family for a lot of congregations. 

As society progressed and people moved away from their home communities, so did our relationship with Mothering Sunday.  

As we know, in modern times commercialisation and removal of religious iconography has only grown. But it still remains a day where those who have devoted their lives to raise us can feel cherished and appreciated. 

Take a moment to read the prayer below and reflect on those who have 'mothered' us  – whether related by blood or not: 

Thank you God for the love of our mothers: 

 thank you God for their care and concern; 

 thank you God for the joys they have shared with us; 

 thank you God for the pains they have borne for us; 

 thank you God for all that they give us; 

 through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


Mothering Sunday is not always a joyful occasion for all, however, and for many it can be a reminder of sad but precious memories. 

On 26 March at 2 pm, St Mary’s Church, Weymouth, will be gathering in the spirit of supporting all those who have experienced the loss of a baby or child, and who may have had the experience of being unable to bear a child. 

The service is an opportunity for reflection and prayer for ourselves and the children who have been lost and who might have been. There will be readings, music, candles to be lit, time for quiet reflection and posies to take away with you. Children’s names can be recorded in a book of remembrance, and members of the congregation will have the opportunity to stay after the service for refreshments and to talk. 

Everyone is welcome. 

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