September 12: Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

September 12, 2018

A few days after the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church celebrates the Holy Name of Mary, the name given to her by her parents, Anne and Joachim.

Miryâm in Hebrew, Mariam in Armenian. There are many different etymologies in the meaning of this name: “mistress of the sea”, “illumination”, “drop”, or “star of the sea”.

One likely meaning is: “beautiful”, and it is only too fitting considering the interior and exterior beauty of Our Lady. In Lourdes, St. Bernadette described the Immaculate Mother of God saying:

...she was young and beautiful, beautiful above all, more beautiful than anything I have ever seen... She is beautiful like one is in Heaven, I think.

St. Catherine Labouré described her the same way: “She was all beauty... She was so beautiful that I could not possibly express her ravishing beauty.” The liturgy, taken from the Canticle of Canticles, exclaims: Tota pulchra es, o Maria – “Thou art most beautiful, o Mary.”

Miryâm was the name of the sister of Moses and Aaron, born like them in Egypt – and means “beloved of God”. How becoming this etymology is for the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, she who is the Beloved of the Father, and of their Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

In the lessons in the Roman Breviary, the Church quotes St. Bernard singing the praises of the Star of the Sea, but also St. Peter Chrysologus, hailing the holy Name of Mary as “lady”, princess, and sovereign. She is truly Our Lady.

In 1513, Rome approved the feast of the Holy Name of Mary that was celebrated in a Spanish diocese. But Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to all of Christianity after the victory of John Sobieski, King of Poland, over the Turks on September 12, 1683, outside the walls of Vienna.

Dedicated to the sweet name of Mary, this victory shows the triumph of the beauty of the Mother of God and religion over the ugliness of infidelity and paganism, but also the success of the Christian armies who entrusted themselves to the Queen of Heaven, she who presides over the combats of the Church, strong “as an army arrayed for battle”.