Holy Name Society

Council of Lyons - 1274

In 1274 the Catholic Church in Spain and France was under great attack from the Albigensian Heresy. The divinity of Jesus Christ was being denied as was His supernatural character. Through the effects of this heresy, blasphemies, cursing, swearing and the irreverent and unholy use of the Name of God was prevalent in society - especially by men.

Pope Gregory X called a special Council of the Church - The Second Council of Lyons - to combat the effects of the Albigensian Heresy - a significant lessening of the love and respect for the Name of Jesus Christ. The voice of the Second Council of Lyons is expressed in a letter of Pope Gregory X to the 5th Master General of the Dominican Order, Blessed John of Vercelli. In an effort to defeat the Albigensian heresy, the Pope made a very special request to the Dominican Order. He requested them to preach every where and with great zeal, a special devotion and reverence for the most Holy Name of Jesus.

The following is the letter sent by Pope Gregory X to Blessed John of Vercelli, Master General of the Dominican Order:

Gregory, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God, to our very dear son, the Master General of the Order of Preachers, salutation and apostolic benediction.

Recently, during the Council held at Lyons, we deemed it a useful commendation to exhort the faithful to enter the house of God with humility and devotion, and to conduct themselves while there in a becoming manner, so as to merit the divine favor and at the same time to give edification. We have also judged it proper to persuade the faithful to demonstrate more reverence for that name above all names, the only name in which we claim salvation- the name of Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed us from the bondage of sin. Consequently, in view of obeying that apostolic precept, in the Name of Jesus let every knee be bent; we wish that at the Holy Sacrifice, every one would bow his head in token that interiorly he bends the knee of his heart.

Wherefore, my very dear son, we, by our apostolic authority, exhort and enjoin upon you and the brothers of your Order to use solid reason in preaching to the people, that they may be led to comply with our desires. Thus you will win the crown of justice in the day of recompense.

Given at Lyons, on the twelfth Calendes of October, third year of our Pontificate.

The Dominican Master General, Blessed John of Vercelli, on the forth of November issued instructions to the whole Order, urging its members, and principally the preachers, to carry out the will of the Holy Father with scrupulous diligence and untiring zeal. A very special devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus spread rapidly within and without the Order of Saint Dominic to Catholics all over Europe. Altars in honor of the Holy Name were soon erected in all Dominican churches.