Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monday's Feast: Holy Name of Mary

In 1513, a feast of "The Holy Name of Mary" was granted by Pope Julius II to the diocese of Cuenta in Spain. It was assigned with proper Office to September 15, the octave day of Our Lady's Nativity. With the reform of the Breviary undertaken by Pope St. Pius V, the feast was abrogated only to be reinstituted by Pope Sixtus V, who changed the date to September 17. From there, the feast spread to all of Spain and to the Kingdom of Naples.

Throughout time, permission to celebrate the feast was given to various religious orders. Pope Innocent XI extended "The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary" to the Universal Church. The feast was first celebrated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Mary, Pope St. Pius X [+1914] decreed that it be celebrated on September 12 to commemorate victory over the Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. After a short period when it was removed because it was considered a duplication it of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8, the memorial was restored to September 12.

We venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of creatures, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Mercy. The object of the feast is the Holy Virgin bearing the name of Mirjam (Mary); the feast commemorates all the privileges given to Mary by God and all the graces we have received through her intercession and mediation.

Pondering the Meaning of "Mary"

The rendering of the name Mary in Hebrew is Miryam and in Aramaic, the spoken language at Our Lady’s time, was Mariam. Derived from the root, merur, the name signifies "bitterness." Throughout the centuries, Saints and scholars have proposed different interpretations for the name "Mary." A mixture of etymology and devotion produced an interesting array of meanings:

"Mary means enlightener, because she brought forth the Light of the world. In the Syriac tongue, Mary signifies Lady." [St. Isidore of Seville +636]

"Let me say something concerning this name also, which is interpreted to mean Star of the sea,[1] and admirably suits the Virgin Mother." [St. Bernard +1153]

"Therefore a certain Star has risen for us today: Our Lady, Saint Mary. Her name means Star of the sea; no doubt the Star of this sea which is the world. Therefore, we ought to lift up our eyes to this Star that has appeared on earth today in order that she may lead us, in order that she may enlighten us, in order that she may show us these steps so that we shall know them, in order that she may help us so that we may be able to ascend. And therefore it is a beautiful thing that Mary is placed in this stairway of which we are speaking, there where we must begin to climb. As the Evangelist says, Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, so immediately at the very moment of our conversion she appears to us and receives us into her care and enlightens us in her light and accompanies us along this laborious path." [St. Aelred +1167]

"Mary means Star of the sea, for as mariners are guided to port by the ocean star, so Christians attain to glory through Mary's maternal intercession." [St. Thomas Aquinas +1274]

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