Friday, January 3, 2014

The Holy Name of Jesus

Today us the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. It observes the naming of Jesus Christ on the eighth day of his life. It is a time to honor the revelation of Jesus' name by dream to Saint Joseph, and likewise the revelation of the same to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. It was reinstituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II as an optional day of memorial celebrated on January 3rd.

The Holy Name refers to the name of Christ, as revealed through divine intervention to Joseph and Mary. It is most often seen in emblem form as "I. H. S.", a Latin abbreviation of Christ's name. While the letters themselves are not considered intrinsically holy, they stand as a reminder of blessings received through Christ's love and mercy.

The Feast of the Holy Name originated toward the end of the 15th century, celebrated between New Year's Day and Epiphany. In its older incarnations, the Feast was a celebration of Christ's naming and circumcision. In its modern form, it is considered to be the central feast of all the mysteries of Jesus Christ.

The greatest promoters of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus were two Christian saints - St. Bernadino of Sienna and his disciple, St. John Capistrano. During the time of their ministry, they carried a monogrammed copy of the holy name beautifully painted on a tablet, with which they performed miracles and healed the sick. At the end of their sermons, they would ask the faithful to prostrate themselves before the emblem of Christ's name. They also began the practice of placing Jesus' monograms over gates and doorways.