The meaning of the celebration
+ The liturgical commemoration of the name of Mary dates to 1513 when it was first celebrated in Spain.
+ The celebration of the Most Holy Name of Mary was extended to the Universal Church after King John III Sobieski of Poland defeated the forces of the Ottoman Empire as they were preparing to invade Vienna, Austria. Before the battle, he entrusted himself and his troops to the Blessed Virgin.
+ This celebration of the Mother of God is a compliment to the celebration of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (January 3). Pope Saint John Paul II re-inserted both celebrations into the Universal Calendar of the Church in 2002.
+ This celebration reminds us of Mary’s special role as an intercessor for all people of faith. The entrance antiphon for the Mass for today’s commemoration declares:
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord God Most High,
above all women on the earth;
for he has so exalted your name,
that your praise shall be undying on our lips.
+ While many religious communities have special devotion to the Mother of God, the Commemoration of the Most Holy Name of Mary is celebrated as the patron feast of the Society of Mary (the Marianists) and the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
For prayer and reflection
“According to an ancient tradition, today we are celebrating the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Indissolubly linked to the Name of Jesus, for Christians this name is the sweetest, for it reminds everyone of the Mother they have in common. Jesus, dying, entrusted us all to her as children. May Mary watch over humanity in this time that is marked by overwhelming explosions of violence. May she watch especially over the new generations who are eager to build a future of hope for one and all.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
On this day we also remember Saint Ailbe (who is also known as Saint Elvis, based on an Anglicized version of his name). Accounts of his life vary with some placing him before Saint Patrick’s arrival in Ireland and others have him serving as a Christian missionary before Patrick’s arrival. What is known with certainty is that Ailbe served as the first bishop of Emly. Following his death around the year 528 he came to be honored as one of the four great patron saints of Ireland.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, for all who celebrate the glorious Name
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
she may obtain your merciful favor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.