The Holy Name Itself
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.
History of the Feast
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 andcircumcision (Luke 2:15-21), and thus a memoriam of the first shedding of the Lord's blood. 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.
This behavior was considered slightly heretical at first, resulting in St. Bernadino being called before a papal tribunal for his actions. Capistrano, however, defend his master's practice so skillfully and successfully that the Pope, Martin V, allowed worship of the holy name, and even assisted in a procession of the tablet. The tablet itself has survived, and is now housed at the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome.
In spite of its removal from the liturgical calendar, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus continues to be an important celebration for Christians, especially those in the Western world. It is a time for reflection on the divine revelation of the name of Jesus Christ and the miraculous power for good it can inspire in his followers.