I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that so many of the titles and feast days attributed the Blessed Virgin Mary have to do with victory in battle. Today’s feast, Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also is linked to a wartime victory.
The feast began in Spain in 1513 and was extended in 1671 to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. The name “Mary” means “Star of the Sea,” according to Marian scholars, and so I can see how, in those days of ships, navigators, and maritime travel, her beautiful name would find such an important place in the hearts of the people.
The victory attribution came in 1683, when John Sobieski, King of Poland, fought with his army on the outskirts of Vienna against the Muslims loyal to Mohammed IV. The Polish king entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, consequently, he and his soldiers were victorious against the Muslims. In honor of this victory, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast to the entire Church. Today it is celebrated as a Memorial in the Liturgical Calendar.
If the Virgin Mary can, through her intercession, effect a monumental victory on the battlefield, don’t you think she can effect a monumental victory over us? The Star of the Sea seeks constantly to win our hearts for Christ, and she will, if we open our hearts to her. Notice that the all victories won via Mary’s intercession were the consequence of a human request or consecration.
If we call upon the name of Mary, she will be victorious over all that threatens to separate us from her Son.
The prayer below is taken from the Preface of the Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary. It’s a wonderful reminder to us of her powerful intercession and is great fodder for meditation on this day that we honor our Blessed Mother’s name and her capability to be victress on any battlefield – even the deepest, darkest battlefields of our hearts.
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
In whose name is all salvation,
at whose command every knee must bend,
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
But by your loving providence you have decreed
that the name of the Virgin Mary also
should sound and resound in the mouth of your faithful
who look to her as to a shining star,
call upon her as mother in danger,
and fly to her protection in their needs…