Today is also the Optional Memoria of the Most Holy Name of Mary. This feast originated in Spain in the sixteenth century, and was extended to the Universal Church in the following century. However, the feast was removed from the calendar after Vatican II, though Pope St John Paul II reinstated it as an Optional Memoria.

St Bernard said: ‘“And the Virgin’s name was Mary.” Let us speak a little about this name, which is said to mean “star of the sea,” and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother’s virginal integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendour shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices. Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits, and giving us light by her example’.

May this precious star guide us in all our ways, and may her Son bless you this day.