The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, celebrated on September 12th, may not be as universally recognized as other Marian feasts like the Assumption or Immaculate Conception. Yet, it holds a rich history and offers profound insights into Marian devotion.
Join us as we delve into the origins of the feast, its history, how it is celebrated globally, churches and shrines dedicated to this devotion, and reflections from saints on the significance of Mary’s holy name.
The feast traces its roots back to the Eastern Church but gained prominence in the Western Church after the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Led by King John III Sobieski of Poland, the Christian forces sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and were victorious against the Ottoman Turks. To commemorate this victory, Pope Innocent XI extended the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary to the universal Church, choosing September 12th, the day following the victory, as its date.
The Holy Name of Mary is revered not only as a name but also as a symbol of all the honor, devotion, and veneration we owe to the Mother of God. The feast is an opportunity to contemplate the virtues and holiness associated with Mary, inviting us to deepen our understanding and devotion to her.
The largest celebrations of this Marian feast around the world include:
- Poland: Given the historical connection with the Battle of Vienna, Poland places significant emphasis on this feast. Pilgrimages to Marian shrines are common, and the day is often accompanied by Masses, hymns, and Rosaries dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary.
- Spain and Latin America: Processions and communal prayers often mark the day. Artistic representations of the name of Mary in flower arrangements or banners are sometimes displayed in churches.
- Philippines: Known for their strong Marian devotion, Filipinos often have special masses and sometimes even Marian parades to honor the Holy Name of Mary.
Several churches and shrines worldwide are dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary, signifying the importance of this particular devotion. Two of the most notable include:
- Sanctuary of the Holy Name of Mary at Brezje, Slovenia: A prominent shrine dedicated to Mary under this title.
- The Cathedral of the Holy Name of Mary in Minsk, Belarus: Another site that draws pilgrims specifically for this devotion.
Various saints have emphasized the power and significance of the name of Mary:
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary … in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart … If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err.”
- St. Alphonsus Liguori: “So great is the divine love for this glorious name, that God wills that even those who are only the servants of Mary should find special joy and consolation in pronouncing her name.”
The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary may not be among the most celebrated Marian feasts, but it carries a wealth of spiritual depth and historical richness.
Across various cultures and traditions, this feast encourages us to contemplate the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to invoke her name with reverence and love, assured of her powerful intercession.
Whether through the words of the saints or the dedication of shrines and churches, the importance of this feast stands as a testament to the universal and enduring appeal of Marian devotion.