The Gospel of John doesn't even name Mary, only referring to her as the mother of Jesus. But we need more. And so, after surveying her many titles, I would like to present as a sort of meditation the admittedly subjective Top Ten Names of Mary.
10. Queen of Peace — Mary officially received this title during World War I in a proclamation by Pope Benedict XV. The Pope added "Queen of Peace" into the Litany of Loreto in his call for peace among the warring nations.
9. Our Lady of Czestochowa, or The Black Madonna — Poland's national shrine to Mary. Legend has it that St. Luke painted this icon on a table that Jesus built. Popes and pilgrims alike have recognized the miraculous nature of the image.
8. Mother of Perpetual Help — This painting shows the Madonna and Child attended by the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The angels hold instruments central to the Passion. The painting is heart breaking. The Christ Child, having glimpsed the instruments of torture, runs to His mother's protection. His right foot is bare, indicating He was so frightened He ran out of his sandal.
7. Our Lady of Guadalupe — This is the image Mary left on the cloak of Juan Diego. Our Lady called herself coatlaxopeuh, which means "the one who crushes the serpent." The word is pronounced "quat-la-supe," from which is derived the English version of "Guadalupe."
6. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel — This is Mary of the brown scapular. The scapular comes to us through the vision of St. Simon Stock. Many miracles have been attributed to the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
5. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal — Mary's appearances to Catherine Laboure in 1830 marked the beginning of modern Marian apparitions. Mary gave Sr. Catherine the design for this medal. The words on the medal prompted clarification on the Immaculate Conception, which became dogma in 1854.
4. Mother of Mercy — Saint Odo, a 10th century abbot, is believed to be the first to call Mary by this name. In the 11th century, this title was incorporated into the prayer Salve Regina.
3. Blessed Mother — This seminal title derives from Gabriel's greeting to Mary at the Annunciation, where she is called "blessed" among all other women.
2. Immaculate Conception — The 1854 dogma issued by Pope Pius IX refers to Mary's sinless nature at the moment of being conceived by her parents. The Immaculate Conception was the first time a pope claimed a dogma to be infallible, even though the idea of papal infallibility would not be officially proclaimed for another 16 years. This is the definitive title of the Blessed Mother.
And now, in my opinion, the No. 1 title of the Blessed Mother:
1. Theotokos — Mary's first and most important title means "God bearer." The title, defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., refers to the Virgin Mary as the Mother of the incarnate Son of God.
And so today the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us how useful and advantageous it is for us to invoke her holy name in our needs.
The name Mary means "Star of the Sea". It is, says Saint Bernard, very well given to her, because she is indeed a star which enlightens, guides, and leads us to a harbor in the stormy sea of this world.