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Monday, January 06, 2014

The Most Holy Name of Jesus



John Hiebel 1681 - 1755
The Presentation and Circumcision of Jesus in the Temple 
1727 - 31
Fresco
The Jesuit Annunciation (Lady Day) Church, Litoměřice, Czech Republic

Hiebel was a pupil of the underestimated Italian Jesuit brother and artist Andrea Pozzo (1642 - 1709)

Here we see Jesuit High Baroque Middle European iconography similar to that in Germany, Austria and what is the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Christ is being presented in the Temple. He receives his Name

And His Name is emblazoned in the firmament of Heaven

The Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus was one of the central devotions of the Jesuit Order

It is not for nothing that this year`s commemoration of Bicentenary of the Restoration of the Jesuit Order began on 3rd January 2014, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The monogram is of course  the emblem of their Society

However the veneration of the Holy Name did not begin with the foundation of the Jesuits. The tradition began very much earlier

In the 15th century it was of course St Bernardine of Siena who popularised the devotion the length and breadth of Italy as a result of his teaching with his monogrammed tablet bearing the initials "IHS"

In the 16th century, the Dominican order had its confraternity of the Most Holy Name of God and of Jesus

The theological foundation of the devotion rests in Scripture and in particular Philippians 2: 7 - 11
7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, 
8 he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. 
9 Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

In the fresco angels throng and worship the name

Beneath is the Christ with the Holy Family

We see visible evidence of the fulfilment of the promises made by God and the prophecies of the Prophets

But we also see the other realms besides Heaven and the Church Triumphant

We see the Church Militant and the "things under the earth" - what seems to be Hell and Purgatory

And, of course, at the name of Jesus, every knee is bent. 

All even the damned fall in worship

In the counter Reformation Church the devotion was a very strong one especially in Spain and especially after the Council of Trent

The power of the Name was regarded as a hammer against evil. Reference was often made to Matthew 1, 21:
"You shall call him Jesus: for he shall save His people from their sins"
The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the Feast of the Presentation at the Temple are not far apart

We have the words of Christ himself about his name:
" If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23)