The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary honors the Virgin Mary and marks the very mention of her name as holy and deserving of respect and devotion.
Through this post, we’ll walk through the significance and history of her feast day before noting its importance to the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. For those of you who are familiar with the Oblates and our spirituality, it will come as no surprise that all Oblates are called to renew their vows on this special feast day.
What is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary?
The Most Holy Name of Mary feast day honors Mary, the Mother of God, as blessed. It takes place each year on September 12th, four days after the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Mother. The feast day encourages us all to pray for her intercession to deepen our love of Christ and our relationship with the Lord.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “We venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of creatures, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Mercy. The object of the feast is the Holy Virgin bearing the name of Mirjam (Mary); the feast commemorates all the privileges given to Mary by God and all the graces we have received through her intercession and mediation.”
History of the Holy Name of Mary Feast Day
The Most Holy Name of Mary originated in Spain in the sixteenth century. In 1683, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast day to the universal Church and gave it the September 12th date. The date is significant because it marks a battle victory for Christian Europe against the Muslim Turks. The Christians prayed for the intercession of Mary throughout their long and arduous campaign before achieving victory.
Celebrating the Most Holy Name of Mary
There is no better way to celebrate the Most Holy Name of Mary than by attending Mass, whether that be online or in person. To honor Mary on this feast day, you might also consider the following prayers and reflections:
- Pray and spend time reflecting upon the Hail Mary
- Pray one or more of these prayers for Mary’s intercession
- Pray and reflect upon the Rosary
- Use the Ven. Bruno Lanteri Prayer Booklet for your prayers
Importance to the Oblate Communities
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary have a special connection with Mary and pray often for her intercession. Venerable Bruno Lanteri, who founded the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, said “the Congregation of the Oblates is not my work, but the work of Mary Most Holy… She is its foundress, its mother, and its teacher.” The devotion of the Oblates is also expressed through our motto, “Think of Mary; call out to Mary.”
You can read more about the connection between the Oblates and the Virgin Mary in the book, Men of Mercy, Sons of Mary: The Lanterian Way by Dr. Cabrini Pak.
“I have known almost no other mother than Mary most holy, and throughout my life I have received nothing but caresses from such a good Mother.”Venerable Bruno Lanteri
Renewal of Vows
Each year, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary by renewing their vows and dedication to Our Lord and Our Lady.
“In his life of consecration an Oblate should remember that, just as God continuously calls him to the intimacy of love, equally constant must be his generous and faithful response. He should therefore frequently examine his fidelity in collaborating with God who works within him. In this spirit it is convenient to renew the consecration even with the whole community in the celebration of the solemnity of the Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12. On the same day they also renew with the whole community their act of entrustment to Our Lady.”Norm 12.1 of our Rule
This year, our feast day celebration and renewal of vows takes place during the live streamed Mass at 11:00 AM EST on Saturday, September 12th.
A Story From Father Mark, OMV
Before making their final vows, Oblate seminarians typically make temporary vows one year at a time while they are studying in the seminary, renewing them each year on the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. However, it was often more convenient for the seminarians’ academic schedules to celebrate their first profession of vows in August. This meant that the following year there would be a few weeks when they would be without vows ahead of the big Holy Name of Mary celebration.
Father Mark shared an interesting story of renewing his vows as a seminarian:
“I made my first profession of vows on August 22, the memorial of the Queenship of Mary. This meant that one year later on August 22, I had to renew my vows for 21 days to get me through to September 12, on which date I would renew my vows for a year at a time thereafter.
We needed two Oblates to witness the renewal of my vows for this brief period, and so we grabbed the closest two Oblates we could find and brought them up to the Church. They happened to be the Rector Major, who was in charge of all the Oblates in the world and who happened to be visiting our community at the time, and the Provincial, who was in charge of all the Oblates in the United States. My sister was also visiting at the time, together with the foundress of her religious community, and they asked if they could come too.
As I began to recite my vows, I was struck by the incongruity of it all—being in that beautiful Church in the presence of the Rector Major, the Provincial, the foundress of a women’s religious community and a family member vowing poverty, chastity, and obedience — for 21 days!
Thankfully, a norm has since been added to our Rule that allows us to make our first profession of vows from the current date until the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary the following year, thus avoiding this situation in the future.”
Will you be celebrating the Most Holy Name of Mary on September 12th? Do you have a special story to share about the feast day? We invite you to share with our community in the comments below.