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Holy Name of Mary

Fr. Scott A. Haynes


We celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary annually on September 12th. When it comes to calling upon the name of Mary, there is no struggle too enormous, and no struggle too personal or too little. In the Bible, the name wields a mysterious power. Names are not to be pronounced casually or lightly.

Names are not to be taken in vain. The invocation of the name renders present the one who is named. So often as you pronounce the sweet name of Mary with devotion and confidence, Mary is present to you, ready to help. So often as you pronounce the sweet name of Mary, you have her full and undivided attention.

The saints, drawing on a verse from the Song of Songs, compare the name of Mary to a healing oil.[1] Oil heals the sick, gives off a sweet fragrance, and nourishes fire. In the same way the name of Mary is like a balm on the wounds of the soul; there is no disease of the soul, however malignant, that does not yield to the power of the name of Mary. The sound of Mary’s name causes joy to spring up; the repetition of Mary’s name warms the heart. The Cistercians and Carthusians, and other others as well, give to every monk and every nun the sweet name of Mary, as a sign of mystical identification with her, a pledge of entrustment to her, and a seal and safeguard of the monastic consecration.

We share an intimate bond with Mary through our Marian consecration, as we entrust everything to her. Through this we have an identification with the Blessed Virgin Mary in all her mysteries, especially in the “Yes” of the Annunciation and in her Compassion at the foot of the Cross. Our relationship with Mary is reinforced through our consecration to her. We place ourselves under her protection.

The sophisticated and clever of the world, high and dry in their rationalism, smile condescendingly at such practices. But the saints, I tell you, think otherwise. The saints understand the power of the name of Mary. For the saints there can never be too much of Mary. [2]

No one has better spoken of the Holy Name of Mary than Saint Bernard. Listen to him. Allow his words to plant deep within your hearts the gift of an abiding devotion to Mary’s sweet name:


In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary. Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart.

Follow the example of her life, and you will obtain the favour of her prayer.

Following her, you will never go astray. Asking her help, you will never despair.

Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away.

With your hand in hers, you will never stumble. With her protecting you, you will not be afraid. With her leading you, you will never tire.

Her kindness will see you through to the end. Then you will know by your own experience how true it is that the Virgin’s name was Mary.



[1] “Your name is as oil poured out” (Ct 1:2). [2] De Maria numquam satis. "Of Mary, never enough!"

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