Ten Titles of Mary and their Significance

Since long before having children of my own, I have loved the thought of naming babies, and I have researched names and kept ideas lists for years. As a part of this interest, I eagerly anticipate the release of the US Census Bureau data for top names each calendar year and have enjoyed noticing and following trends over time.

Anyone who spends as much time studying US naming patterns and peculiarities as I do knows certain facts: Emma and Olivia have been on the top ten list of girl names for the past decade (and in most of those years, spots one and two); Noah and Liam are the male counterparts of Emma and Olivia (for five consecutive years, Liam and Olivia were both number one); popular names remain fairly consistent from year-to-year, and it’s by the decade that shifts are seen; if you were asked to guess the top ten names of any of the decades in which you lived, you’d probably get at least a few right (yep! Jessica, Ashley and Emily are the top three girl names of the 1990’s).

And, relevant to today’s post, the top girl name of the past century is Mary. What’s more, Mary isn’t just the most popular name by a small fraction; no, the number of baby girls named Mary from 1924-2023 nearly doubles that of the runner up. While there were about 1.5 baby girls named Patricia — the number two spot — during that time period, there were 2,985,148 baby girls named Mary. Whew!

While Mary is a beautiful name for a person of any background or faith tradition, the name holds special meaning within Catholic and Christian circles, for the obvious reason that Mary is the mother of Jesus and one of the most important role models within our faith.

But as we are discussing names — particularly the name “Mary” — it is important to note that our Heavenly Mother goes by many names, not just plain and simple Mary. Each name emphasizes a different aspect of her identity as well as the role that she plays in the lives of the faithful across eras and areas, and it’s fun to learn about these names as a way of expanding and deepening your understanding and relationship with the Mother of God.

Stella Maris

Stella Maris literally translates to “Star of the Sea,” and according to the eponymous Apostolic Letter by St. Pope John Paul II, the name stems from the fact that Mary’s son, Jesus, accompanied his disciples to their work on the sea, calming storms along the way, and that the Church accompanies seafarers and all those working in the maritime world.


Madonna is an Italian designation for Mother Mary that translates into English as Our Lady. It’s a title that is often used in artistic depictions of Mary, or of Mary cradling her son.

Our Lady of Grace

When Mary was greeted by the Angel Gabriel, she was called “full of grace,” and she has become known by the title Our Lady of Grace in homage to this moment, as well as the grace that Mary both models and brings to the faithful.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe refers to the Marian apparition that came to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. According to the story, Mary appeared to Juan Diego to request that a shrine to her be built on the hill where she appeared. Juan Diego carried the message to the local Bishop, who demanded sign before he would approve construction of the shrine. When Juan Diego returned to the spot and saw Mary again, she instructed him to collect roses in his cloak and carry them to the Bishop. Juan Diego complied, and when he unfurled the roses before the Bishop, an image of Mary was revealed on the cloak.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is associated with a Marian apparition and also a 15th century Byzantine icon that has become, well, iconic. The icon, depicting Mary and the child Jesus, along with two angels carrying the Holy Instruments of the Passion of Jesus Christ, in enshrined in a church in Rome, where the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is prayed weekly.

Lady Lourdes

Lady Lourdes, also referred to as Our Lady of Lourdes, is the title of Mary that came about in the mid-1800s after St. Bernadette, age 14 at the time, had a vision of Mary in a cave while she was gathering firewood for her family. At that time, Mary revealed to young Bernadette the Immaculate Conception, which was named a doctrine of the church soon after.

Our Lady of Hope

Like many of the other titles of Mary, Our Lady of Hope comes from an apparition. Mary appeared in Pontmain, France in 1871, during the height of the Franco-Prussian War, telling her children to pray and that God would hear them. The crowd, receiving the message, spontaneously began singing the hymn Mother of Hope. According to the legend, Mary laughed and joined in the singing, and has been called Our Lady of Hope since then.

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven, and it’s Latin translation Regina Celia, is a title based on the idea that Mary, at the end of hear earthly life, was bodily and spiritually assumed into Heaven where she is now honored as Queen.

Our Lady of Fatima

The title Our Lady of Fatima was given to Mary when, in the early 20th century, she appeared before three shepherd children in the village of Fatima, Portugal. In these apparitions, Mary urged the children to spread the message that men, when and children everywhere should pray the Rosary daily and offer sacrifices for peace in the world.

Virgin of Mercy, or Mother of Mercy

Many people are familiar with the title Mother of Mercy from the concluding prayer of the Rosary. “Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” For centuries, Catholics have called out to Mary, and with her compassionate and loving Mercy, she has given her intercession and shared her wisdom.

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