The invocation of the Holy Name has been a continuous practice from the earliest days of the Church. Its veneration in liturgical celebrations dates from the fourteenth century. The spread of the devotion in Italy and then throughout Europe was due to the efforts of Saint Bernadine of Siena and his disciples, and the liturgical feast was sanctioned in the sixteenth century. In 1530 Pope Clement VII granted an indult to the Friars Minor to celebrate an office of the Holy Name.
A Reading from the sermons of Saint Bernardine of Siena: On the Eternal Gospel
(Sermon 49, art 1 (Op. Omnia IV)
The name of Jesus is the foundation of our faith and makes us children of God
This most Holy Name was the object of all the deepest longings of our fathers in the faith, the restless waiting of centuries, long years of weariness and prayerful expectation. Now in the era of grace it has been made known to us. Hide from us, Lord, I pray, your claim to power; withhold your claim to vengeance; your claim to justice. Our prayer is to hear the name of Jesus a name that speaks of mercy; then, indeed, your voice would be that speaks of mercy; then, indeed, your voice would be sweet to our ears, your countenance beautiful to behold.
The name of Jesus is an indispensable foundation of the faith since he it is who makes us children of god. Our Catholic faith is grounded in the knowledge and light of Jesus Christ, the light of the soul, the door to life, the secure foundation of eternal salvation. Not to have the faith or to abandon it is, so to speak, to sept out into the darkness of the night without a light, stumbling headlong into hazards with eyes closed. However well developed human reason may be it is a blind guide for man’s mind to follow in his attempts to understand the secrets of heaven. It is to build a house without foundations, or ignore the door and make an entry through the roof. That foundation is Jesus Christ, both light and door, when revealing himself to erring man as the true way, holding out to every man the light of faith by which the unknown God may be sought: the search leading to faith, and faith to discovery. This foundation upholds the Church built in the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is the crowning glory of the preacher, for it is Jesus who illuminates and strengthens, and gets ready hearing for the preacher’s words. What, after all, is the source of the extraordinary world-wide burning light of faith if not Jesus, proclaimed by the preacher? Surely God has called us into his own wonderful light by the light and attraction of this name. To the enlightened, who in that light see light, the words of the Apostle may aptly be applied: “Once you were all darkness, now you are light in the Lord: walk then as children of light.”
Glorious name! Beautiful name! Name that tells of love and excellence! Through you we have forgiveness of our sins, victory over our enemies, healing in sickness, strength and joy as we suffer the trials of life. You are recompense to the man of faith, learning to the preacher, strength to the worker, perseverance to the weak. In the furnace of your burning love our desires are enkindled, our prayers are granted, contemplative souls are entranced. Through you all who are gloriﬁed come in triumph to everlasting glory. Most merciful Jesus, grant through your most holy name that we too may be numbered amongst those who share your kingdom.
you appointed your Son as Saviour of the human race
and decreed that he should be called Jesus.
May we who venerate his name on earth
come to enjoy his presence in heaven:
we ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.