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On the History and Meaning of the Holy Name of Mary

Several weeks ago, I came upon a portion of a book about the Blessed Virgin Mary online. It was a cold day in February, and I went down the proverbial rabbit hole looking into old books that teach of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The one I stumbled upon was written in 1922 by Cardinal Alexis-Henri-Marie Lépicier, O.S.M., and is titled The Fairest Flower of Paradise: Considerations on the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, Enriched with Examples Drawn from the Lives of the Saints. As you might note (above), there is a link in the book title by which you might read the original online source for this item; but, for today, I am posting one portion of the book which is titled, Holy Mary- Predestination and Name of Mary. The text is quite informative, and chock-full of Catholic teaching on the history and meaning of the name of our Mother and Queen, Mary. The text begins now:

“Thy name and thy remembrance are the desire of my soul: my soul hath desired thee in the night.” (Isaiah 26:8-9)

God, having decreed that He would become Man for the salvation of the human race, at the same time decided that He would be born of a woman, so that He might not only be like unto us by nature, but, furthermore, be one of our race.

For the fulfillment of his designs, the Most High had chosen from all eternity a creature whom He freely predestined to the sublime dignity of Mother of the Word, and likewise to be the recipient of all those prerogatives of nature and grace which so high an office requires. For this cause God willed to raise this privileged creature, not only above all men, but also above all the choirs of angels. We need not wonder, then, if so noble a woman was, from the very beginning, by reason of the great mystery to be accomplished in her, the object of the divine complacency: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning.” (Proverbs 8:22)

Admire and adore, O my soul, with all possible humility, the justice and mercy of God’s ways. Bender thanks to this great Lord, for having deigned to predestine a simple creature, of like nature with thyself, to so high a dignity. At the same time ask of Him grace to be contented and quiet in the place He has assigned thee upon this earth, and remember that the conditions of human life are all by His disposal: so that to wish to alter them is to desire the overthrow of the social order, which after all is God’s own work.


* * *

It was reasonable to expect that the name of a woman privileged as Mary was, should comprehend in its meaning the office to which she was called, and the lofty privileges resulting from this office.

This blessed Name had been pronounced by God in the very act of predestining this wonderful creature. Further, we may believe that He Himself suggested it, by an interior inspiration, to the parents of this favored Child, when the time of her birth had come. This name is the Name of Mary. It may mean three things: sovereignty, bitterness, and resistance; three ideas which represent the principal prerogatives of our glorious Queen.

In the first place, Mary, by becoming Mother of the Incarnate Word, became also sovereign and mistress of the universe. Furthermore, since she was destined by God to cooperate with Jesus Christ in the ransom of the human race, she had to suffer the greatest torments which a pure creature ever endured. Lastly, by virtue of her Immaculate Conception, she was the first person to shake off the unhallowed yoke of the evil one, and thus in her own person to offer to God the first fruits of the Redemption. The Name of Mary, therefore, is at one time synonymous with her unrivaled greatness, her fathomless sorrows, and her splendid victories.

Blessed and holy Name! Thou art to my soul a source of boundless joy: sweeter than honey to the taste: more pleasing to the ear than the most exquisite melody.


* * *

The most holy Name of Mary, joined to that of Jesus, possesses a hidden power which puts to flight the demon, and fills the soul of him who utters it in loving faith, with consolation and hope. It is a certain fact that God has attached a beneficent power of sanctification and life to the devout uttering of these two Names by the faithful, and this precisely because Jesus and Mary are the dearest objects of His love.

It is, then, the duty of every good Christian frequently to pronounce these two holy Names with faith, hope and reverence. We should call upon them in our needs, and do all in our power to prevent their unworthy usage by the lips of the profane. Alas! why is it that Names so great, so holy and at the same time so dear to our hearts, are oftentimes made the butt of scorn and raillery!

O my God, may thy great and awful Name be ever hallowed in those of Jesus, my Saviour, and Mary, His Blessed Mother! In them, we find our life and our salvation!

Example – The Seven Holy Founders

detail of the painting 'The Seven Holy Founders of the Order receive the religious habit of the Virgin Mary' by Antonio Balestra,  early 18th centuryIn the thirteenth century, when the persecution carried on by Frederick II was raging against the Church, there lived in Florence seven illustrious men who, united by the bonds of Christian charity, strove to make their lives conform as far as possible to the dictates of evangelical perfection. On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, 1233, when they were absorbed in prayer in the Laudesi chapel, Mary herself deigned to appear among them, inviting them to abandon all things and dedicate themselves to the service of her Son and herself. Promptly and joyfully they followed the summons of the Queen of Heaven and, abandoning wealth and relatives, withdrew to a solitary place to lead a life of austerity and union with God.

In order the better to flee the tumult of the world, after a short time they left Florence and betook themselves to Monte Senario, about nine miles northward of this city. There, for some years they continued their hidden life of penance, enjoying the ineffable sweetness promised to those who faithfully serve our divine Lord and His Holy Mother. On the evening of Good Friday, 1240, while meditating on the sorrowful mysteries which the Church commemorates on that day, the Queen of Heaven appeared to them again, bidding them found a Religious Order, the Order of her Servants, whose aim should be to spread devotion to her sorrows throughout the world. The object of this devotion was to recall the part which Mary had as the associate of Jesus in His work of redeeming mankind from the bondage of sin.

When the foundation of the Order had thus been laid by Mary herself, the Seven Holy Founders abandoned their beloved solitude of Monte Senario and undertook long journeys throughout Italy, France, Germany and Poland, everywhere preaching the sorrows and glories of Mary, converting sinners and pacifying cities. Heavenly signs accompanied the death of each of these Saints. And as one love united them while they lived, so after their death one tomb received them all. In the course of centuries they were invoked together by the people, under the title of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary, called also the Order of Servites. These holy men were all raised together to the honors of the altar by Pope Leo XIII, of holy memory, in the year 1888.


O Mary, my tender Mother, imprint thy Name, with that of Jesus, upon the inmost recesses of my heart. Obtain for me of God, in my last hour, to utter thy blessed Name and that of thy Son, with lively faith and ardent love, in order that by the virtue of these holy Names, the enemies of my salvation may be put to flight, and I may resign my soul into the hands of my Heavenly Father. Amen. (source of text and image) 

May you have a good day in the season of Lent.