In a world of fiercely guarded corporate names and logos, it should be easy to understand this feast. The letters IHS are an abbreviation of Iesous, the Greek name for Jesus.
The Feast of the Holy Name (traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision) is a major feast of the Church. It reflects the significance of the Holy Name, Jesus. The name Jesus is from the Hebrew Joshua or Yehoshuah meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh will save.”
Although St. Paul might claim credit for promoting devotion to the Holy Name because Paul wrote in Philippians that God the Father gave Christ Jesus “that name that is above every name” (see 2:9), this devotion became popular because of 12th-century Cistercian monks and nuns but especially through the preaching of St. Bernardine of Siena, a 15th-century Franciscan.
Bernardine used devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus as a way of overcoming bitter and often bloody class struggles and family rivalries or vendettas in Italian city-states. The devotion grew, partly because of Franciscan and Dominican preachers. It spread even more widely after the Jesuits began promoting it in the 16th century.
In 1530, Pope Clement V approved an Office of the Holy Name for the Franciscans. In 1721, Pope Innocent XIII extended this feast to the entire Church.
This feast invites us to a continual remembrance and veneration of the Holy Name in order that God might plant in us, and in every heart, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ.