Signs & Symbols: The Holy Name of Jesus
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Pope Clement VII allowed the Franciscans the celebration of this feast in 1530 and in 1721 Pope Innocent XIII extended the celebration of this feast day to the entirety of the Catholic Church.
With the revisions of Vatican II, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was removed from the liturgical calendar. However, in 2002, Pope John Paul II restored the celebration of this feast, dedicating January 3rd the day of memorial.
Signs & Symbols
IHS is a “Christogram,” an ancient way of writing the name of Jesus, a kind of abbreviation of the name comprised of the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek. The full name in Greek is ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, in the Latin alphabet the letter Σ(sigma) is represented as an “S,” thus IHS.
Devotion to the holy name of Jesus was promoted through the IHS monogram by St. Bernardine of Siena and his student St. John of Capistrano in the 15th century. In 1427 Pope Martin V approved veneration of this symbol. 100 years later, Saint Ignatius adopted this symbol to represent the Society of Jesus.
Signs & Symbols
The “IHS” monogram is seen here at the bottom of a beautiful illuminated manuscript from Northern Italy dating back to the late 15th century. Read More about this manuscript.
In the Bible there are many references to the sanctity and power of the holy name of Jesus.
" . . . In my name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them, they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover" (Mk 16:17-19)
"Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High." (Luke 1:30-32)
"So that at Jesus' name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:10-11)
"Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col 3:17).
Tradition and Faith are manifested as one and communicated visually through decoration. Symbolism like that of the IHS monogram holds hundreds of years of history and sacred devotion. Read More on Sacred Decoration.
At Saint Mary’s Church in New Britain, CT we designed and built a new alter of sacrifice in the same style as the original furnishings in the church. The alter is carved out of wood and painted to look like marble. The IHS monogram is carved into to the alter; a design that stands the test of time and continues to honor the Holy Name of Jesus.