Known by many names, above all we call her by the name Mary. As Catholics, we venerate Mary as the greatest of saints and are able to pray for her saintly intercession.
Mary’s patronage extends far and wide, from mothers and nuns, to seafarers and even the entirety of humanity. She was “after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men.”
Here are the best obscure Marian titles you probably don’t know!
More spacious than the heavens
This Marian title comes from a Byzantine Akathist hymn, poetically referring to containing the Creator of the universe in her womb.
“You were made more spacious than the heavens, O Most Pure Mother, for God cannot be contained by the whole universe, and yet He chose to be contained in your womb for the sake of our salvation.”
Saint Louis De Montfort makes a reference to this title in his Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary chaplet:
“O Holy and immaculate virgin, I know not with what praise to extol thee, since thou didst bear in thy womb the very one whom the heavens can not contain.”
Exterminatrix of heresies
This Marian title comes from Pope St. Piux X’ 1904 encyclical Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum.
He writes: “And thus once again is justified what the Church attributes to this august Virgin that she has exterminated all heresies in the world.”
Similarly, the tract in the pre-1970 Mass of the Common of the Blessed Virgin begins:
“Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, thou alone hast destroyed all heresies. Who didst believe the words of the Archangel Gabriel.”
Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
This Marian title comes from a Lithuanian legend. In 1702, when the capital of Vilnius was captured by the Swedish army during the Great Northern War, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn came to her people’s rescue.
At dawn, the heavy iron gates of the city fell and trapped the Swedish soldiers, allowing the Lithuanian army to successfully counter-attack near the gate.
Ladder of sinners
This Marian title comes from Saint Bernard, writes Saint Alphonsus Liguori:
“Saint Bernard rightly names her the ladder of sinners, ‘Peccatorum scala;’ since she, this compassionate queen, offers her hand to poor fallen mortals, leads them from the precipice of sin, and helps them to ascend to God.”
Our Lady of the Grapes
This Marian title comes from the church of the same name on Mount Brouilly in the Beaujolais wine region of France.
After three years of devastating mildew on their grape harvests from 1850 to 1852, local viniculturists decided to seek Mary’s intercession. The church of Our Lady of the Grapes was finished on September 8th in 1857, the same day as the Nativity of Mary.
That’s why raditional winemakers across France refer to that day as “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest.”
Mary, Our Lady of Grapes, Ladder of sinners, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Exterminatrix of heresies, More spacious than the heavens, pray for us! 🙏