Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

A reflection on the word “MARY”

By Deacon Tom Fox

When Sarah approached me some time ago about writing about the Blessed Virgin, my first reaction was to demur because anything and everything ever needed to be said about the Mother of Jesus has already been written. And all the words written about her were written by saints and scholars and mystics and by visionaries. What then could I write?

Now there was an interesting twist to Sarah’s invitation, and that was the idea of writing about the word MARY. That is, writing about her name.

I should have immediately started with prayer, but what first came to mind related to my Irish heritage. I thought of the patriotic songwriter George M. Cohan who wrote a song that has these words:

For it is Mary, Mary

Plain as any name can be

… And there is something there

that sounds so square

It’s a grand old name

Yes – Mary is a grand old name.

I seem to remember my mother, who’s name, coincidentally was Mary playing that song on our basement piano while dad played the fiddle. May God rest their souls.

While researching for a theme and construct for this Lenten Marian task, I found a 2008 column by Nick Alexander. He wrote about the Top Ten Mary Songs. I have no idea who voted in this and how much of a population sample was approached for it. Nonetheless, some songs are familiar to me; some not so much. Listed in order, the Top Ten Mary songs and the artists who performed them include:

-Queen of Heaven by Mark Mallett

-Mary’s Song by Sean Clive

-Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, by Gretchen Harris

-Medjugorje, by Paul Harrigan

-Magnificat, by Fr. Kent O’Connor

-Do Whatever He Tells You by Nick Cardilino

-Song to Our Lady of Guadalupe by Annie Karto

-Ode to Mary by Mark Mallett

-Ave Maria by Trish Genco

and  -Queen of Apostles by Nancy Krebs

Again, I don’t know who voted for these top songs about Mary — but I’ve always loved the Ave Maria and songs by Annie Karto and Nancy Krebs. But what do these tell us of Mary? What book or article or popular song could express things of Mary that speak anew to my heart? Or to yours?

Up to now, my thoughts have been a form of Marian rambling as I lead to some main focus words about Mary found in an ancient song called MARY THE DAWN. I discovered this hymn during my first year as a deacon candidate when we purchased our Divine Office books – the Liturgy of the Hours.

I had never heard of Mary the Dawn before then. In just fourteen lines, I found a sensitive theology for ordinary folks which beautifully and tenderly describes the Incarnation and the intimacy between Mother and Son. All but lost in history, these words were likely a poem about Mary, and about the totally unique relationship which exists between the Tabernacle and The God-son reposed in her.  May I introduce you to


Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;

Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!

Mary the root and Christ the Mystic Vine;

Mary the grape and Christ the Sacred Wine!

Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;

Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!

Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;

Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;

Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest,

Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest.

Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s son

By all things blest, while endless ages run. Amen.

 And so, the center of my reflection on Mary is found in this poem made hymn. I hope it touches you as it did me.

However, I’d like not to end this without suggesting something further that speaks to the name MARY. If you are a devotee, you are aware that there are many titles for our Blessed Mother. There is no person from our Christian Scripture and heritage who has been so honored as to the quantity or the scope of the titles as our Mother Mary.

So here is a non-exhaustive list which I offer to you for Lenten meditation. Perhaps you’d be willing to reproduce this list, and counting the number of days left in Lent from the time you read this, pick that number of titles. Then, each day contemplate and pray about about Mary under one of her unique and honorary titles.


  • Adam’s Deliverance
  • Advocate of Eve
  • Advocate of Sinners
  • All Chaste
  • All Fair and Immaculate
  • All Good
  • Aqueduct of Grace
  • Archetype of Purity and Innocence
  • Ark Gilded by the Holy Spirit
  • Ark of the Covenant
  • Assumed into Heaven
  • Basilica of Saint Mary Major
  • Blessed Among Women
  • Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Bridal Chamber of the Lord
  • Bride of Christ
  • Bride of Heaven
  • Bride of the Canticle
  • Bride of the Father
  • Bride Unwed
  • Cause of Our Joy
  • Chosen Before the Ages
  • Comfort of Christians
  • Comforter of the Afflicted
  • Conceived Without Original Sin
  • Consoler of the Afflicted
  • Court of the Eternal King
  • Created Temple of the Creator
  • Crown of Virginity
  • Daughter of Men
  • David’s Daughter
  • Deliverer From All Wrath
  • Deliverer of Christian Nations
  • Destroyer of Heresies
  • Dispenser of Grace
  • Dwelling Place for God
  • Dwelling Place Meet for God
  • Dwelling Place of the Spirit
  • Earth Unsown
  • Earth Untouched and Virginal
  • Eastern Gate
  • Espousal of the Virgin Mary
  • Eve’s Tears Redeeming
  • Ever Green and Fruitful
  • Ever Virgin
  • Exalted Above the Angels
  • Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Lady of Sorrows
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Flower of Carmel
  • Flower of Jesse’s Root
  • Formed Without Sin
  • Fountain of Living Water
  • Free From Every Stain
  • Full of Grace
  • Garden Enclosed
  • Gate of Heaven
  • God’s Eden
  • God’s Olive Tree
  • God’s Vessel
  • Handmaiden of the Lord
  • Healing Balm of Integrity
  • Health of the Sick
  • Helper of All in Danger
  • Holy in Soul and Body
  • Holy Mountain of Our Lady
  • Holy Protection of the Mother of God
  • Hope of Christians
  • House Built by Wisdom
  • House of Gold
  • Most Humble
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Immaculate Heart
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Immaculate Mother
  • Immaculate Virgin
  • Incorruptible Wood of the Ark
  • Inviolate One
  • Joseph’s Spouse
  • King’s Mother
  • Lady Most Chaste
  • Lady Most Venerable
  • Lady of Good Help
  • Lady of Grace
  • Lady of Mercy
  • Lady of Peace
  • Lady of Perpetual Help
  • Lady of Sorrows
  • Lady of the Rosary
  • Lady of Victory
  • Lamp Unquenchable
  • Life-Giver to Posterity
  • Light Cloud of Heavenly Rain
  • Lily Among Thorns
  • Living Temple of the Deity
  • Loom of the Incarnation
  • Madonna of Miracles
  • Madonna of Saint Luke
  • Madonna of Miracles
  • Marketplace for Salutary Exchange
  • Mary of the Assumptions
  • Mary of the Hurons
  • Mary the Blessed Virgin
  • Mary, Blessed Virgin
  • Mary, Help of Christians
  • Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces
  • Mary, Mother of God
  • Mary, Queen of Africa
  • Mary, Queen of Angels
  • Mary, Queen of Peace
  • Mary, Star of the Sea
  • Mary, Virgin Mother of Grace
  • Mary’s Immaculate Conception
  • Mater Dei
  • Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Mediatrix
  • Mediatrix of All Graces
  • Mediatrix of Salvation
  • Mediatrix of the Mediator
  • Minister of Life
  • Mirror of Justice
  • More Beautiful Than Beauty
  • More Glorious Than Paradise
  • More Gracious Than Grace
  • More Holier Than the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the Entire Angelic Hosts
  • Morning Star
  • Most Holy Name of Mary
  • Most Venerable
  • Mother and Virgin
  • Mother Inviolate
  • Mother Most Admirable
  • Mother Most Amiable
  • Mother Most Chaste
  • Mother Most Pure
  • Mother of Christ’s Members
  • Mother of Christians
  • Mother of Divine Grace
  • Mother of God
  • Mother of Good Counsel
  • Mother of Jesus Christ
  • Mother of Men
  • Mother of Our Creator
  • Mother of Our Head
  • Mother of Our Savior
  • Mother of the Church
  • Mother of the Mystical Body
  • Mother of Wisdom
  • Mother Undefiled
  • My Body’s Healing
  • My Soul’s Saving
  • Mystical Rose
  • Nature’s Re-Creation
  • Nature’s Restoration
  • Neck of the Mystical Body
  • Never Fading Wood
  • New Eve
  • Notre Dame of Paris
  • Notre Dame of Chartres
  • Notre Dame of Easton
  • Nourisher of God and Man
  • Olive Tree of the Father’s Compassion
  • Only Bridge of God to Men
  • Our Immaculate Queen
  • Our Lady in America
  • Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace
  • Our Lady of Africa
  • Our Lady of Arabia
  • Our Lady of Bethlehem
  • Our Lady of Calvary
  • Our Lady of Charity
  • Our Lady of Consolation
  • Our Lady of Czestochowa
  • Our Lady of Europe
  • Our Lady of Fatima
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel
  • Our Lady of Good Help
  • Our Lady of Grace
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Our Lady of High Grace
  • Our Lady of Hungary
  • Our Lady of Japan
  • Our Lady of Knock
  • Our Lady of La Leche
  • Our Lady of LaSallette
  • Our Lady of Lebanon
  • Our Lady of Limerick
  • Our Lady of Loretto
  • Our Lady of Lourdes
  • Our Lady of Mercy
  • Our Lady of Miracles
  • Our Lady of Montserrat
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • Our Lady of Nazareth
  • Our Lady of Peace
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help
  • Our Lady of Pilar
  • Our Lady of Pompeii
  • Our Lady of Prompt Succor
  • Our Lady of Providence
  • Our Lady of Ransom
  • Our Lady of Safe Travel
  • Our Lady of Saint Luke
  • Our Lady of Sorrows
  • Our Lady of Tears
  • Our Lady of the Americas
  • Our Lady of the Angels
  • Our Lady of the Assumption
  • Our Lady of the Cape
  • Our Lady of the Conquest
  • Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt
  • Our Lady of the Golden Heart
  • Our Lady of the Gulf
  • Our Lady of the Hermits
  • Our Lady of the Highways
  • Our Lady of the Holy Letter
  • Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
  • Our Lady of the Holy Souls
  • Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
  • Our Lady of the Incarnation
  • Our Lady of the Kodiak and the Islands
  • Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery
  • Our Lady of Miracles
  • Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
  • Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
  • Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
  • Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa
  • Our Lady of the Pines
  • Our Lady of the Prairie
  • Our Lady of the Presentation
  • Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Our Lady of the Snow
  • Our Lady of the Snows
  • Our Lady of the Thorns
  • Our Lady of the Valley
  • Our Lady of the Wayside
  • Our Lady of the Woods
  • Our Lady of Victories
  • Our Lady of Victory
  • Our Lady of Washington
  • Our Lady Who Appeared
  • Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy
  • Our Lady, Gate of Heaven
  • Our Lady, Help of Christians
  • Our Lady, Mother of the Church
  • Our Lady, Queen of All Saints
  • Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles
  • Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners
  • Our Own Sweet Mother
  • Paradise Fenced Against the Serpent
  • Paradise of Innocence and Immortality
  • Paradise of the Second Adam
  • Paradise Planted by God
  • Patronage of Our Lady
  • Patroness and Protectress
  • Perfume of Faith
  • Presentation of Mary at the Temple
  • Preserved From All Sin
  • Protectress From All Hurt
  • Purification of Mary
  • Purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Queen of All Saints
  • Queen of Angels
  • Queen of Creation
  • Queen of Heaven
  • Queen of Heaven and Earth
  • Queen of Martyrs
  • Queen of Nigeria
  • Queen of Peace
  • Queen Unconquered
  • Queenship of Mary
  • Refuge in Time of Danger
  • Refuge of Sinners
  • Rich in Mercy
  • Rose Ever Blooming
  • Salve Regina
  • Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit
  • Scepter of Orthodoxy
  • Seat of Wisdom
  • Second Eve
  • Singular Vessel of Devotion
  • Sister and Mother
  • Source of Virginity
  • Spiritual Vessel
  • Spotless Dove of Beauty
  • Star of the Sea
  • Star That Bore the Sea
  • Suppliant for Sinners
  • Surpassing Eden’s Gardens
  • Surpassing the Heavens
  • Surpassing the Seraphim
  • Sweet Flowering and Gracious Mercy
  • Tabernacle of God
  • Tabernacle of the Word
  • Temple Divine
  • Temple Indestructible
  • Temple of the Lord’s Body
  • Theotokos
  • Throne of the King
  • Tower of David
  • Tower of Ivory
  • Tower Unassailable
  • Treasure House of Life
  • Treasure of Immortality
  • Treasure of the World Undefiled
  • Undefiled Treasure of Virginity
  • Un-dug Well of Remission’s Waters
  • Unlearned in the Ways of Eve
  • Unplowed Field of Heaven’s Bread
  • Unwatered Vineyard of Immortality’s Wine
  • Vessel of Honor
  • Victor Over the Serpent
  • Virgin by the Sea
  • Virgin Inviolate
  • Virgin Most Faithful
  • Virgin Most Merciful
  • Virgin Most Powerful
  • Virgin Most Prudent
  • Virgin Most Pure
  • Virgin Mother
  • Virgin of Charity
  • Virgin of Virgins
  • Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Wedded to God
  • Woman Clothed With the Sun
  • Workshop of the Incarnation

Excuse the length of this reflection. There are no words which can describe MARY – the grand old name in God’s plan for His Son and in His plans for our salvation.

There isn’t a word of the Hail Mary prayer that is more powerful and more grace-productive than the word MARY. May she intercede for each of us who read these words.


Deacon Tom Fox has been an amazing witness to me on the topics of living your Catholic faith and keeping a sense of tenderness and humor simultaneously. You’ll find him at his website and you can hear him and his lovely wife, Dee, on the Catholic Vitamins podcast. He’s also involved in the Catholic Family podcast, the Paul’s Men podcast, and at CatholicMom.com.

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