BY JONATHAN BORDALLO
For The Umatuna Si Yu’os
AND GRACE GARCES BORDALLO
Umatuna Si Yu’os
The first Catholic Church on Guam was established and dedicated to the “Dulce Nombre de Maria” (“Sweet Name of Mary”) on Feb. 2, 1669, by Jesuit priest, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores. Every year, the parish of Agaña commemorates the Sweet Name of Mary in the month of September, around the time of Mary’s Nativity.
Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron OFM Cap., D.D. celebrated the first of nine festal Novenas and Masses for the Agana Cathedral-Basilica parish patroness, Dulce Nombre de Maria, beginning Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. He began Mass by acknowledging Sept. 5 as the feast day of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and dedicated the Mass as a memorial with special prayers to Blessed Teresa and Our Lady.
In his homily, he said, “The sweet names, the holy names of Jesus and Mary are the two names that the demons cannot tolerate, and they are the two names we honor more than anything else in this world.”
Archbishop Anthony said, “If we call on the name of Our Lady and ask for her intercession for us to her son, we can guarantee that our Mother will be praying for us. What a blessing it is then that not only do we have our Lord praying for us to His heavenly Father, but we have Our Blessed Mother interceding for us to her Son, which means that we are not going before the Lord ourselves, we have someone else to present our prayers to the Lord. That person is Our Lady,” he said.
“The wonderful thing is she is also our Mother. Her heart is open to us. She is a mother who came and so her heart is also open to Him. What a perfect person to bring all of our petitions to the Lord. Our Lady then purifies our prayers, and adds her perfect prayers to ours, and then presents them to her Son. What is presented to our Lord is a prayer that is perfect, a prayer that is far greater than anything that we could ever be able to do.”
The Sweet Name of Mary relates to the Most Holy Name of Mary, because the two feasts celebrate aspects of the power that manifests itself when invoking the Blessed Mother by name. San Vitores, himself, claimed Guam and the Mariana Islands in honor of both Santa Maria and the Spanish Queen Regent, Maria Ana of Austria, who was the earthly patroness of the fledgling mission. Queen Maria Ana was named in honor of Santa Maria and her mother, Santa Ana, so the claim of the Blessed Mother over the Mariana Islands is even more pronounced.
During San Vitores’ time, religious devotion to Santa Maria’s name was becoming widespread throughout Europe. In 1513, the feast for the Most Holy Name of Mary was first celebrated in Spain. Over the next century and a half, this devotion spread throughout the country. On Sept. 11, 1683, at Vienna, Austria, the Muslim army of the Ottoman Turkish Empire had conquered deep into Europe and had reached the outskirts of the city. The King of Poland called on the power of the Blessed Mother, and through her intercession, his army crushed the Ottoman Turks. Thus was established the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, through all of Christendom. Incidentally, the croissant pastry was introduced in Vienna in gratitude for the Blessed Mother’s glorious deliverance of the city.
Many saints and theologians of the time devoted themselves to Mary’s name. St. Bernadine of Siena, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, and Dom Prosper Gueranger were devotees and wrote many works extolling the beauty, sensibility, and power inherent in her name, which is above all others, except the name of Jesus, her Son. It is said that Mary’s name, like Jesus’ name, has the power to expel demons and that the angels love to hear her name pronounced. The name itself, “Mary” or “Maryam” in Aramaic was not chosen by her parents. Christian tradition holds that her name was chosen by God, and this was attested by the early Church Fathers (St. Jerome (De Nat. M. V.), St. Epiphanius (Or. de Praes. Deip.), St. Antoninus (Hist. p. 1, t. 4, c. 6, #10), and others.) Although English translations of Aramaic differ, many scholars translate her name as “Stella Maris” or “Star of the Sea”.
There are accounts by saints that the Sweet Name of Mary leaves an actual sweet taste or sensation on their tongue when they invoke her. Many liken her name to sweetest honey or perfumed oil. Calling on the name of Mary is a serious matter and not to be taken casually or lightly, for the Blessed Mother becomes present to the worshiper. It is said that requests for her intercession are answered swiftly and powerfully.