The Apostle St. Paul was probably the first promoter of the name of Jesus, when he called it “a name which is above all names” (Philippians 2:9).
Several saints honoured the Holy Name of Jesus, but the devotion became widespread in the fifteenth century through St. Bernardine of Siena who, when preaching, held in his hand a plaque with the logo “IHS” surrounded by rays. The monogram is taken from the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus: IHSOYS.
It is also customary, though not historical, to interpret “IHS” as Iesu Hominum Salvator, Jesus Saviour of Mankind. St. Bernardine worked countless miracles by blessing people with this logo as the visible manifestation of his faith and recommended that it be placed above the entrance of cities and homes; hence this symbol’s prevalence throughout Europe.
The great preacher is also responsible for introducing the name of Jesus into the Hail Mary: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Persons who had prominent roles in the history of salvation received their names from God. These names have a direct connection with whom they are and what their mission is. Thus, Adam means “man of the earth”; Eve means “mother of the living”; Peter means “rock”.
At the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel conveyed God’s express Will concerning the name which the Divine Son of the Virgin Mary was to bear: “You shall call His name Jesus” – in Aramaic, Yeshua (Matthew 1:21).
To St. Joseph, the angel not only spoke the name of Jesus, but explained its meaning: “…for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is also meant to impress upon us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name, this name before which, “every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).
Several Popes have attached indulgences to the mere pronunciation of the name of Jesus. Pope Benedict XIII granted an indulgence of 50 days as often as the name of Jesus is pronounced devoutly, and a plenary indulgence at the time of death provided the name of Jesus is piously invoked at least in thought.
Pope St. Pius X attached a 300 days’ indulgence to the pious pronunciation of the names of Jesus and Mary.