We’ve just passed three feast days that have personal (to me) and Church-wide significance: St. Clement Mary Hofbauer (March 15, patron of my parish), St. Patrick (March 17, patron of my family’s ancestral homeland), and St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 19, self-chosen patron of my family). Every year, it feels to me a little like a several-day block party—the Redemptorists of my parish celebrate St. Clement’s feast as a solemnity (which means a celebration day!), the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as if it were a solemnity (!), and the Italians live it up on St. Joseph’s Day, which is a Church-wide solemnity. Such fun!
I’m writing this on the feast of St. Clement, after a beautiful Mass at my parish, during which the Ave Maria was sung, and it occurred to me how very Marian these three feast days are. Consider:
St. Clement Mary Hofbauer
The name of Our Lady is an actual part of his name! Many of our male saints—especially those who were priests and brothers—have a form of Mary as part of their names, which I love. Not only that, but “clement” means “merciful,” and Our Lady is described as “clement” in the “Hail Holy Queen”: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.” Furthermore, St. Clement was a Redemptorist priest, and the Redemptorists have a special devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In fact, Pope Pius IX charged with Redemptorists with making Our Lady of Perpetual Help known. One can’t celebrate St. Clement’s feast day without thinking of Our Lady!
Though I’m not familiar with any explicit mention of a love of Our Lady by St. Patrick, the fact that the Irish have a long and deep devotion to her suggests to me that he must have. A friend of mine, who is from Ireland, named her children Patrick and Mary, and I always thought there could be no more Irish names than those two. Even St. Brigid, who might claim equal billing with Patrick and Mary as beloved saints to the Irish, was called “Mary of the Gael” because of her similarity to Our Lady in goodness and virtue. For me, St. Paddy’s Day also makes me think of the Irish Marys, Moiras, Mauras, and Maureens (I wrote about the love of the Irish for Our Lady as evidenced through their naming and language last year at this time.)
Who can think of good St. Joseph without thinking of his beloved spouse, our Mother Mary? I would even go so far as to call Joseph a Marian name, as when parents try to think of ways to honor the special women in their lives through naming their sons, it’s not uncommon for them to look to the important men in that woman’s life: her husband or father, for example. Since St. Joseph devoted his life to caring for Our Lady and Her Son, I’m sure he’s pleased that the thought of him brings Our Lady so easily to mind.
I often think of the phrase, “To Jesus through Mary,” and I’ve seen examples of that many times—of Our Lady bringing people closer to Jesus. Since so many—if not all—of the saints had a special devotion to Our Lady, I’m wondering if “To Mary through the saints” might also be a thing. Perhaps the introduction to Our Lady through a favorite saint will be just the opening Our Lady needs to lead that person to Her Son.
Do the saints mentioned here, or others, make you think of Our Lady? Do you have any stories of being led to Our Lady by a particular saint? I’d also love to hear any of your “To Jesus through Mary” stories!
Copyright 2018 Katherine Morna Towne