9 Saints Who Devoted Themselves To The Holy Name Of Jesus

by January, Jesus Christ, Saints

Family movie night. We hadn’t watched a movie with my 19-year-old daughter for months. Her boyfriend was there too and as we pushed “play,” I relished the first satisfying crunch of popcorn and snuggled under a plush blanket next to my husband.

The movie was just the kind I like. Time travel. Touching family dynamics. Great acting. Strong marriages. Twenty minutes into the movie, my pleasant feelings began to dissipate as I started noticing how often the characters were using the name of the Lord in vain. I became so distracted by this heart-wrenching fact that I wasn’t enjoying the story line anymore. My heart sank as I considered my options. Dismay turned to anger and anger to self-pity as I asked myself why everything we do as Christians seems to involve some sort of moral dilemma.

Finally, I paused the movie and announced to everyone that I was going to jot a hash mark every time the characters in the movie used the Lord’s name in vain. Then I would pray a Hail Mary for each hash mark after the movie was over in reparation. I invited them all to join me if they wished. Thankfully, my family also loves the Holy Name, so they agreed. 

As “fate” would have it, not five minutes after we turned the movie back on, the protagonists find themselves in a free-falling aircraft, and as they plummet toward the earth, one of them exclaims “Oh my God!” twenty-two times in a row! Over the course of the movie, we counted almost exactly 50 occasions in which the Lord’s name was used irreverently or flippantly. So we prayed the rosary. (Granted, it probably would have been better just to turn the movie off.)

“I say I will not mention him…But then it is as if fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones” (Jer 20:9, NAB). 

The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, tried to stop speaking about the Lord, but no matter how much anguish he experienced as a prophet of God, he was compelled to preach. In the earliest days of the nascent Church, St. Paul, despite persecution and great hardship, never stopped preaching in name of Jesus Christ and about the power of His name. In Acts 9: 15, the Lord says of St. Paul, “This man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings and Israelites.” 

St. Paul was devoted to and empowered by Jesus’ name. In his letter to the Philippians, for example, Paul spoke specifically about the power and majesty of the Name, “Because of this, God greatly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Referencing this faithful apostle, St. Bernadine said, “By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the name of Jesus at all times…” 

“O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth” (Ps 8:2)!

Formed by the teaching of St. Paul and the other Apostles, as well as their own intimate relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, the saints throughout the ages have loved, revered, and put their hope in the name of Jesus. 

9 Saints Who Devoted Themselves To The Holy Name Of Jesus

St. Francis of Assisi (died 1226), the founder of the Franciscan Order, wrote the famous Canticle of Brother Son and Sister Moon saying, “No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.” According to St. Bonaventure, whenever Francis spoke or heard the name of Jesus, he was filled with a palpable joy.

St. Thomas Aquinas (died 1274), a Doctor of the Church, is highly revered for his wisdom and for his work in theology and philosophy. About the name of Jesus, he said, “Truly…this name Jesus is of great and manifold power; for it is a refuge for the penitent, a remedy for the sick, a strength for those struggling, a support for those praying, because it confers pardon from sin, the grace of health, victory to those tempted, the power and confidence to obtain salvation…”

Bl. Henry Suso (died 1366), a German Dominican, was convinced of the power of Jesus’ Name and its ability to invigorate us and inspire us: “Faith in Jesus and in the power of His Holy Name is the greatest spiritual force in the world today. It is a source of joy and inspiration in our youth; of strength in our manhood, when only His Holy Name and His grace, can enable us to overcome temptation; of hope, consolation and confidence at the hour of our death…”

St. Ignatius of Loyola (died 1556), a Spanish soldier turned priest, is known for his Spiritual Exercises which have aided Christians in prayer and spiritual warfare for over 500 years. His devotion to the name of Jesus was clearly the foundation of his life and ministry. He called his order the Society of Jesus, adopting the symbol IHS, which in Greek stands for the name of Jesus Christ. 

St. Francis de Sales (died 1622) was a bishop and Doctor of the Church. He is perhaps best known for his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, which was specifically written for the laity. Speaking about the name of Jesus, he said, “The thoughts of those moved by natural human love are almost completely fastened on the beloved…When it is gone, they express their feelings in letters, and can’t pass by a tree without carving the name of their beloved in its bark. Thus, those who love God can never stop thinking about him, longing for him…If they could, they would engrave the name of Jesus on the hearts of all humankind.” 

St. Jane Francis de Chantel (died 1641) a French mother and widow became a nun and founded a religious order. She was passionately in love with Jesus and spent her life serving the poor and needy. She died after repeating the Holy Name of Jesus three times. 

St. Alphonsus Liguori (died 1787), the founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, tells us how the name of Jesus helps us to speak in a language of love to the Father, “Each time we say “Jesus,” it is an act of perfect love, for, we offer to God, the infinite love of Jesus.”

St. Therese of Lisieux (died 1897), though she has been declared a Doctor of the Church, was known for her child-like confidence in God and died at the early age of twenty-four. The following words demonstrate her desire to give her life fully and radically to God as well her love of the name of Jesus.  “With St. Agnes and St. Cecilia, I would offer my neck to the sword of the executioner, and like Joan of Arc I would murmur the name of Jesus at the stake.

St. Gemma Galgani (died 1903) The Wonders of the Holy Name by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan says the following about this young, passionate saint and mystic, “This dear girl Saint also had the privilege of frequent and intimate converse with her Angel Guardian.  Sometimes the Angel and Gemma entered into a holy contest as to which of them could say more lovingly the Name of Jesus.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always” (2668). The name of Jesus was on the lips of the saints constantly. Praying with great Franciscan, St. Bernardine of Siena, let’s remember never to take for granted the Sacred Name of Jesus: 

Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who mourn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick.

To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity.  Amen.

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