In ancient times, Mary was called the Theotokos, Mother of God. It is because she is the Mother of God that we celebrate her and her most holy name. This particular feast has been celebrated within the Church since the late 1600’s; it was placed on the Church calendar by Pope Innocent XI, in response to a battle victory of the Christian Europeans against the invading Moslem Turks, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We celebrate this feast on September 12, just four days after the celebration of Mary’s birth.
Of course, as Catholics, when we hear the name Mary, we immediately think of the prayer Hail Mary. It is in this prayer, above all others, that we rightly honor Mary for all of the graces that God bestowed upon her and for the fact that she is the Mother of God. Through her most holy name we are able ask for her intersession to pray for us to her most Holy Son, Jesus Christ.
As with various other Marian feast days, there is a corresponding feast day for our Lord. Over 150 years prior to the celebration by the Church of the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary; the Church celebrated the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3rd. Both of these feasts had been removed from the liturgical calendar after Vatican II and were restored by Pope John Paul II.
The placement of the feast, within four days after the birth of Our Lady, invokes thoughts of our own baptism and conferral upon ourselves of our name. We too, are graced by God and although our vocations may not be as lofty as Mary, we are all children of God, with Mary as our spiritual mother. Who among us does not honor our mother and feel a special attachment at the mere mention of her name? This above all is what this feast celebrates, the Most Holy Name of Mary, the Mother of God, is also our Mother and we as her dear children also feel this special attachment at the mere mention of her name.