Feast Day: September 12
The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. On September 12, 1683, the feast was extended to the universal Church at the will of Pope Innocent XI, as thanks for the victory over the Muslims who besieged Vienna and threatened Christianity.
Christian piety has always held the name of the Mother of God in special reverence. This feast recalls the significance of Mary, she that is the bearer of light, light that illuminated her soul and that has become the light for many other souls. Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God’s infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God’s ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights (including religious rights) of all peoples.
“…Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition or slander or jealousy, call out to Mary. When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary. When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by the loathsomeness of your conscience when the terrifying thought of judgment appalls you and you begin to founder in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary. 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 favor 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 from your own experience how true it is that ‘the Virgin’s name was Mary.’”
—Excerpt from a writing of St. Bernard of Clairvaux
(A prayer to Mary in difficult times)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto thee, O virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Foley, Leonard, O.F.M., and Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. “Saint of the Day.” Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009.
Giorgi, Rosa. “Saints: A Year in Faith and Art.” New York, NY: Abrams Books, 2005.
Pennington, M. Basil, O.C.S.O. “Through the Year with the Saints.” New York, NY: Image Books, 1988.