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Titles for Virgin Mary are numerous as well as universal

Published: May 20, 2006   

The Gospel of John simply calls her the mother of Jesus, while the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke call her Mary. Through the centuries she has been given numerous titles such as Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady and even Mother of God, to educate and show devotion.

According to "100 Names of Mary: Stories and Prayers," more than 6,000 titles have been given to Mary, probably "Miriam" or "Miryam" in Hebrew, which comes from "mar" meaning "bitter, bitterly or bitterness." She may have been named after Miriam, the sister of Moses, whose name means, "fat, thick, strong" or "princess."

In April Dolores T. Florez, a graduate of St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Denver, presented a women's retreat called the "Names of Mary" at the Benedictine Spirituality Center in Fort Smith.

Florez leads workshops and retreats all over the United States focusing on leadership, community organization, grief and lose and domestic violence. Florez is a member of St. Anne Church in Arvada. Colo., and is a senior coordinator for the Denver Housing Authority.

"Do you know Mary has over 100 names?" she asked in an interview.

Much of her research came from the book, "100 Names of Mary" by Anthony F. Chiffolo (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002).

At the retreat 15 different images of Mary were displayed. "We went through the whole gamut; it was a wonderful experience," she said.

Florez said she has a special devotion to Mary and decided to present the "Names of Mary" retreat because she had much success with this theme in Denver.

"Many people don't know that Our Lady of Lourdes is another name for Mary or Our Lady of Fatima is another name for Mary," she said. "They just think Mary, mother of Jesus."

The book describes the origin and meaning of Marian names such as "Ark of the New Covenant," "Morning Star," "the New Eve," "Queen of All Saints," "Seat of Wisdom" and "Virgin of Tenderness." It also describes names given to Mary through her apparitions around the world. Each description includes both traditional and contemporary prayers written by popes, saints and unknown authors throughout the Church's history.

The book includes this traditional prayer by an unknown author to Our Lady of the Highways:

"May my traveling be to the honor and glory of your divine Son. Enlighten my way and protect me on this journey. Bring me back home safe in mind, body and soul. Through Christ, your Son. Amen."

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