Q. Why do we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
A. The Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an optional memorial celebrated this week (September 12). The feast was first celebrated in the 1500s in Spain and the Kingdom of Naples.
In 1683, in response to an invasion of Austria by Muslim armies from the Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey), the forces of the Holy Roman Empire, under the command of the Polish king John III Sobieski, arrived at Vienna to defend the city (and, ultimately, all of Europe). After Sobieski entrusted himself and his troops to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they won the decisive battle on September 12, thoroughly defeating the Muslim invaders. In the following year, to celebrate the victory, Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.
The feast was removed from the universal Church calendar in the liturgical reform following Vatican I. But it was restored by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002, along with the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3).
The Roman Martyrology describes the celebration this way: “The Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day on which the inexpressible love of the Mother of God for her Holy Child is recalled, and the eyes of the faithful are directed to the figure of the Mother of the Redeemer, for them to invoke with devotion.”