The Most Holy Name of Mary
“And the name of the virgin was Mary.” (St. Luke, I, 27)
In this simple phrase, St. Luke sums up the greatness of Mary, as epitomized in her holy name. That the Church recognizes this is quite apparent when we realize the numerous times the name of Mary occurs in her various prayer, invocations, and seasonal liturgy.
The name of Mary was chosen by the Most High for the fairest of the daughters of Eve, the mother of His Divine Son, and was revealed to Anne and Joachim by the angel Gabriel who was later to announce to their child the great privilege accorded her by God.
Mary! A name so lofty, in the regal majesty of its sound and meaning – Mary, Maria, Miriam! It is a name as familiar to us as the name of our Mother, as the bells of the church, as the peaks of the mountains which send their friendly greetings to the valleys below. Mary! A thousand times we have prayed, sung, wept this name, in good and evil days. Millions of women are called by that name and it weaves a golden thread around even the plainest woman. Mary! Holding on to this name, grope the way through the darkness of life and death. It is the rosy dawn heralding the rising sun, Jesus, in the Gospels as well as in the hearts of men.
A beautiful wreath of interpretation has grown around this holy name of Mary; the name Mary is supposed to stem from the word, “yam” – sea; “mar,” “mir,” “mor” – bitter sea, mistress of the sea, or the best known, “star of the sea.” Others find profound meaning by tracing Mary to “moras,” – hope; “mar” the bitter one; “maron” the exalted one, “moren,” the rising one, “marsh,” the enlightener, “mor,” myrrh. All these are ingenious but are not etymologically tenable. In all probability, the name Mary goes back to the Egyptian language. The sister of Moses and Aaron, born in Egypt like her brothers, is the only woman mentioned in the Old Testament with this name. It can be derived from the Egyptian root, “mir,” love, and “jam,” “jahu,” Yahu, Yahwe, God; so that Mirjam means “God-loving,” or “beloved of God.” In Mary’s time it was more common to derive the name from Maron, the Exalted One, corresponding to our Madonna, Notre Dame, Our Blessed Mother or Our Blessed Lady.
“The name of Mary,” says Saint Anthony of Padua, “is sweeter to the lips than the honeycomb, more delightful to the ear than a sweet song, more entrancing to the heart than the purest joy.”
“Surely,” says Saint Bernard, “the Mother of God could not have a name more appropriate, nor one more impressive of her high dignity. Mary is in fact the beautiful and brilliant star which shines upon the vast and stormy sea of the world.”
But above all these interpretations, Mary’s name will ever signify all that is holy and blessed for “when the daughters of Zion saw her, they cried out that she was most blessed, saying: ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth’.”
How we should honor this holy name of Mary; we should always invoke Father God, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, through His name. Tenderly must Jesus have spoken the name of His Mother. How His Sacred Heart was moved when He was called the Son of Mary.
“Mary, how sweetly falls thy name
On my enraptured ear;
Oft do I say in holy love
Thy name when none are near.
Sing oh, my lips, and loudly proclaim,
Oh Mary, my Mother, how sweet is thy name.
Sweet as the warbling of a bird,
Sweet as a Mother’s voice;
So sweet to me is thy dear name;
It makes my soul rejoice.
Bright as the glittering stars appear,
Bright as the moonbeam’s shine,
So bright in my mind’s eye is seen
Thy loveliness divine!
Never cease to plead with Him through His Mother’s holy name; ever call on God the Father for pity and help in the name of His daughter Mary! Pray to the Holy Spirit in the name of His spouse to strengthen, guide and bless us. Mary! Mary! Mary!
The Most Holy Name of Mary