The Greatest Marian
Titles: Their History,
Meaning and Usage
By Anthony Buono
Alba House, 2008
327 pages, $16.95
To order: albahouse.org
When it comes to titles for the Blessed Mother, there are some we hear quite frequently, like Mother of God. And there are those like Mediatrix that might not roll off the tongue in everyday conversation.
If you find yourself less than knowledgeable as to the deeper meaning of many titles of the Blessed Mother as well as how they came about, Anthony Buono has produced an ideal spiritual reference book in The Greatest Marian Titles.
In his most recent title, Buono has produced a resource that is dense with information yet divided in such a way as to make it appealing and comprehensible to multiple audiences, including those with little knowledge of Mary’s titles.
Buono focuses on 24 titles for the Blessed Mother, spanning those from the earliest days of the Church to titles developed — or revived — in more recent times.
Each chapter ranges from seven to 18 pages, making the book a perfect companion for those readers with bus or train commutes or who have short periods of time in which to read.
Furthermore, each chapter is nicely structured by beginning with a short history of the title, how it developed and evolved over time, and how each is rooted in Scripture. Following the history, Buono provides brief yet compelling “Application to Us” sections in each chapter, concluding with a prayer.
For example, as he concludes his chapter on the Immaculate Conception, Buono writes, “By meditating on the Immaculate Conception, we become truly aware of what we need: the strength to overcome sin that is all around us and the power to renounce Satan, who can do nothing against those who refuse to yield to his temptations. Mary reminds us that we too have been redeemed by the grace of Christ and we are stronger than we think; we can and we must overcome every assault of the Evil One.”
Likewise, the prayer to Mary under the respective title that closes each chapter is a solid way to underscore the relevance of each and our continual need to seek assistance from Mary, as well as a nice segue from chapter to chapter.
Buono relies on typology to trace various Marian titles to their Old Testament roots, when applicable. By tracing each title from its scriptural foundation through the teachings of the Church across the ages, Buono makes abundantly clear how our rich Marian tradition is rooted in Scripture.
In addition to his discourse on each of the titles, Buono weaves in related Church history, such as the development of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the history of the Rosary, and teachings about angels.
While I read the book over a matter of weeks and found it informative and largely enjoyable, there were times after a long day at work when it just wasn’t the right book to read. And if Buono hasn’t done it yet, a study guide would be another welcome resource.
Readers will need to put in some work of their own in order to get the most out of the book. Have your Bible by your side. Take a slow and thorough approach, so that in the end you will come away with a deeper appreciation for the many titles by which we call Our Blessed Mother.
Nick Manetto writes
from Reston, Virginia.