Devotion to the Holy Name
Luke 2:21 "...Et
vocatum est Nomen eius IESUS"
("And His Name was called
Psalm 90:14 "Because he hoped in me I will
I will protect him because he hath known My
Zacharias 10:12 "I will strengthen them in the
and they shall walk in His Name, saith the
Apocalypse 3:8 "I know thy works. Behold, I have
given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut:
because thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word,
and hast not denied My Name."
Apocalypse 15:4 "Who
shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and magnify Thy
Sacred Scripture, God Himself names those who have a great
role to play in our salvation. As recorded in the fifth
chapter of Genesis, He named the first man Adam, which means
"Man of the Earth", 1 and He changed the name of our spiritual
Father from Abram to "Abraham," which means "Father of Many
Nations," and changed that of Abraham's wife, Sarai, to
"Sarah," which means "Princess" and foretells that she would
be the spiritual mother to kings (Genesis 17). Our first Pope
had been named "Simon" before he became "Peter" to signify his
status as the earthly rock of the Church as Christ is the
Foundation and Head. And so, too, the Name "Jesus" has
meaning: His Holy Name means "God Saves" ("Emmanuel"), and
that Our Lord would receive this Name was foretold by the
divinely inspired Prophet Isaias:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign.
Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name
shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey,
that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.
Our Lady learned
how she was to name her Child from the Archangel Gabriel:
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was
sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a
virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house
of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel
being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord
is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having
heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself
what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said
to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring
forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be
great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the
Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father;
and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of
his kingdom there shall be no end.
... and St.
Joseph heard it from an angel in a dream:
Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as
his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came
together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.
Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not
willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away
privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the
angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying:
Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy
wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy
Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call
his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their
sins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which
the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall
be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call
his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the
Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he
knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and
he called his name JESUS.
Then, when He was
circumcised on the 8th day after His Nativity, He received the
And after eight days were accomplished, that the child
should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was
called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.
And what of it?
St. Peter sums it up after he healed the lame man and was then
asked by the high priest, "By what power, or by what name,
have you done this?":
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to
them: Ye princes of the people, and ancients, hear: If we
this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the
infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole: Be it
known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by
the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you
crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him
this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone
which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the
head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other.
For there is no other Name under heaven given to men,
whereby we must be saved.
When we say the
Name "Jesus" (or "Iesus," "Iesu," "Yeshua," etc.) consciously, with deep reverence, we are
re-realizing the core Truth of the holy Faith: "God Saves" --
and all gratitude and humility are summoned. Say that Holy
Name, ponder it, feel it in your mouth and in your heart!
"IESUS -- GOD SAVES!" When you pronounce it, know its meaning
and humble yourself before it; feel in your heart how you are
addressing and referring to Lord Christ. "IESUS -- SAVIOR!"
So holy is His Name that uttering it piously is an
indulgenced act. So revered is it that:
attitude of deep respect toward the Holy Name is exactly as it
should be according to Sacred Scripture:
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death,
even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also
hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above
all names: That in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
It is "in His
Name" that the Gentiles shall hope (Matthew 12:21); "in the
Name of Jesus Christ" that the Apostles baptized (Acts 2:38),
healed (Acts 3:6, 16), cast out demons (Acts 16:18), preached
(Acts 9:27), and anointed (James 5:14); it is "by the Name" of
Jesus that signs and wonders were seen (Acts 4:30).
And it is in His Name that we should place our faith,
do our works, and say our prayers:
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ:
and love one another, as He hath given commandment unto us.
All whatsoever you do in word or
in work, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus
Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
...Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in My Name, He will
give it you. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in My
Name. Ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be
devotion to the Holy Name is the fruit of the work of St.
Bernardine of Siena, A.D. 1380-1444, the Franciscan who
reformed his Order and preached fiery sermons all over Italy.
An excerpt from one:
When a fire is
lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless
weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is
dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away.
So when Paul's voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the
nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his
preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was
the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it,
false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great
candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.
By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles, and by
the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the Name of
Jesus wherever he went. He praised the Name of Jesus "at all
times," but never more than when "bearing witness to his
Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this
Name "before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel"
as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry
wherever he journeyed: "The night is passing away, the day
is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and
put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves
honorably as in the day." Paul himself showed forth the
burning and shining-light set upon a candlestick, everywhere
proclaiming "Jesus, and Him crucified."
And so the
Church, the Bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony,
rejoices with the psalmist, singing: "O God from my youth
you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous
deeds." The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says:
"Sing to the Lord, and bless His Name, proclaim His
salvation day after day." And this salvation is Jesus, Her
During these very
popular sermons, he would hold up for veneration the monogram
of Christ's Name -- the letters "IHS" (or "JHS") -- surrounded
by rays. This ancient monogram is a Latinization of the Greek
monograms for Iesous Christos, "IH XP" and "IC XC," and
it became even more popularized after St. Bernardine
encouraged a playing card maker in Bologna -- a man whose
business had been ruined because of the Saint's preaching
against gambling -- to make holy cards depicting it instead of making his usual fare. St.
Bernardine's apostleship of the Holy Name was carried on by
St. John Capistran, A.D. 1385-1456, and to them both is
attributed the Litany of
the Holy Name.
Because of the
influence of St. Bernardine's work, the Name "Jesus" was added
to the Hail Mary prayer, and the Feast of the Holy Name was
later added to the calendar (celebrated on the 1st Sunday of
the year, or 2 January if this Sunday falls on the 1st, 6th,
or 7th). The office of this Mass was written by Bernardine dei
Busti, and it makes use of the beautiful 12th century hymn, Iesu
Dulcis Memoria which speaks of His Name and was written by
another who had devotion to it, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (A.D.
1090-1153). The entire month of January is devoted to the
worship of the Holy Name and to Christ's
Honor the Holy Name of Our Lord,
and use it with only the deepest reverence. As St. John the
Evangelist described his vision of the end of time when
writing from the island of Patmos:
And He showed me a river of water of life, clear
as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the
Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides
of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits,
yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree
were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no
curse any more; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall
be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. And they shall
see His face: and His Name shall be on their
Chaplet of the Holy Name
The Chaplet of
the Holy Name is prayed on a 33 bead chaplet (3 decades of 1
large bead followed by ten small beads). 33-bead "rosaries" or
33-knot "chotki" of the Eastern tradition can be used for this
devotion. To pray the Chaplet of the Holy Name:
Make an Act of
Contrition (i.e., pray this prayer earnestly):
O my God, I am
heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my
sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all
because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and
deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of
Thy grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of
Incline unto my
aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me.
On the first
Lord, Thou hast said: "Ask and ye shall
receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you," I seek, I knock, I ask this favor [name
On each of the first group of ten
Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make
haste to help me.
second large bead:
"Amen, I say unto you, if ye ask
the Father anything in My Name it shall be given unto you."
It is of the Father and in Thy Name, Lord, I ask this
On each of the second group of 10
Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make
haste to help me.
On the third
Lord, Thou hast said: "Heaven and earth
shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away," Thou wilt
grant me this favor because Thou hast said it and Thy word
On each of the third group of 10 small
Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste
to help me.
See also the Novena to
the Holy Name.
1 Eve, whose name means "Mother of All
Living," was named by Adam. Genesis 3:20 "And Adam called the
name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the
2 The custom of
bowing the head at the mention of His Name was formally
written into law at the Second Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274,
convened by Pope Gregory X: "Those who assemble in church
should extol with an act of special reverence that Name which
is above every Name, than which no other under Heaven has been
given to people, in which believers must be saved, the Name,
that is, of Jesus Christ, Who will save His people from their
sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for
all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever
that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred
Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his
heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head."