Holy Name of Mary
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The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, or simply the Holy Name of Mary, is a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church celebrated on 12 September to honour the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has been a universal Roman Rite feast since 1684, when Pope Innocent XI included it in the General Roman Calendar to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Meaning of the name
In Hebrew, the name Mary is Miryam. In Our Lady's time, Aramaic was the spoken language, and the form of the name then in use was Mariam. In the book, The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God, St. John Eudes offers meditations on seventeen interpretations of the name "Mary," taken from the writings of "the Holy Fathers and by some celebrated Doctors". The name of Mary is venerated because it belongs to the Mother of God.
Meanings ascribed to Mary's name by the early Christian writers and perpetuated by the Greek Fathers include: "Bitter Sea," "Myrrh of the Sea," "The Light Giver," "The Enlightened One," "The Light Giver," and especially "Star of the Sea." Stella Maris was by far the favored interpretation. These etymologies suppose that the Hebrew form of the name is Maryãm, not Miryãm. The Hebrew name of Mary, Miryãm, (in Latin Domina) means lady or sovereign.
Mary’s name occurs in the first part and in the second part of the Hail Mary.
The feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3). Its object is the Blessed Virgin Mary; the feast commemorates all the privileges given to Mary by God and all the graces received through her intercession and mediation.
The entry in the Roman Martyrology about the feast speaks of it in the following terms:
- The Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day on which the inexpressible love of the Mother of God for her Holy Child is recalled, and the eyes of the faithful are directed to the figure of the Mother of the Redeemer, for them to invoke with devotion.
The feast day began in 1513 as a local celebration in Cuenca, Spain, celebrated on 15 September. In 1587 Pope Sixtus V moved the celebration to 17 September. Pope Gregory XV extended the celebration to the Archdiocese of Toledo in 1622. In 1666 the Discalced Carmelites received permission to recite the Divine Office of the Name of Mary four times a year. In 1671 the feast was extended to the whole Kingdom of Spain.
Before the Battle of Vienna in 1683, John III Sobieski had placed his troops under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the following year, to celebrate the victory, Pope Innocent XI added the feast to the General Roman Calendar, assigning to it the Sunday within the octave of the Nativity of Mary.
The reform of Pope Pius X in 1911 restored to prominence the celebration of Sundays in their own right, after they had been often replaced by celebrations of the saints. The celebration of the Holy Name of Mary was therefore moved to 12 September. Later in the same century, the feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 in the reform of the Calendar by Pope Paul VI, as something of a duplication of the 8 September feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it did not cease to be a recognized feast of the Roman Rite, being mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 12 September. In 2002 Pope John Paul II restored the celebration to the General Roman Calendar.
The day was commemorated in Vienna by creating a new kind of pastry, known now as the croissant, shaping it in the form of a half-moon from the crest on the Turkish flag. It was eaten along with coffee which was part of the booty from the Turks.
A number of parishes and schools are dedicated in honor of the Holy Name of Mary.
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 242
- Alessio, Mark. "The Most Holy Name of Mary", Catholic Family News. September 2001
- Holweck, Frederick. "Feast of the Holy Name of Mary." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 7 Aug. 2013
- Carol O.F.M., Juniper. "Mariology"
- Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
- "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
- 1920 typical edition of the Roman Missal
- "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 138