What’s In a Name? Was Shakespeare Wrong?

by | Aug 30, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name?  A rose is a rose by any other name.”

What someone or something is called or labeled is arbitrary compared to their or its intrinsic qualities.

In ”Mom’s school” we learned, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt us!” Yet, at the same time, some experience the pain of being called “the n-word” or “the c-word!”

At the other end of the spectrum are the words sweethearts have for each other. Each couple develops’ a special vocabulary to refer to their sweetheart.

Many people today have experienced the complexity of changing one’s name legally.

In this Mindwalk, I explore what happens when a “special place” receives a new name.

From Chapel… to Shrine… to Basilica

The physical structure at 500 East Chelten Ave in Philadelphia started life as a chapel serving the needs of a mainly immigrant population. In the early 20th century, it was renamed the “Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.” (Image courtesy of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal)

Since its establishment on Thursday, March 25, 1915 (the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mother), the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal has faithfully upheld its primary mission to usher the faithful to “come to the foot of the altar” for Mary’s graces.

Now, since February, it is called the Basilica Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. The language of the church, speaks of a special privilege among churches and even shrines.

This newest basilica is not directly associated with any appearances of the Mother of God. Nor is there a collection of crutches such as those left behind at Lourdes after miraculous healings. It does have, in common with all such places, many highly personal meanings.

Personal meanings of Basilica Shrine of the Miraculous Medal

recent Mindwalk reflected  on our needs for “special places.” Places where we feel a sense of comfort, identity, inspiration… whatever we need at that moment!  A place where we are nourished and grow.

All this is true about the building at 500 Chelten Ave. But for each visitor today it holds special personal reasons.

Among the reasons I hear most frequently…

  1. It provides a sacred space where I can more easily engage in prayer, and seek spiritual guidance from the priests and sisters connected with the Basilica.
  2. Hearing the testimonies of others giving thanks for the help they received in the midst of life’s difficult circumstances makes it easier for me to trust in the promises Mary’s Miraculous Medal.
  3. It is easier to pray in an atmosphere of wonderful art and invites wonder and a sense of the divine
  4. I need a place to make a pilgrimage that would help me focus my life or experience the healing grace of confessing my sins.
  5. The recent addition of the beautiful outdoor Rosary walk is adding to my opportunities for the experience of “walking prayer” and pilgrimage.
  6. The first in a series of outdoor shines connect with the spirituality in my country  of origin such as the Irish “Our Lady of Knock.”

These, and many more reasons, bring literally millions to the various live streaming and other digital ways of prayerful visits and joining in prayer offered on the website.

Shakespeare was basically right, but there is more to be said.

Food for thought

What are the needs you are most conscious of in your life today?

How does this basilica or other special places meet your needs for a place where you are nourished and grow?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk