Illuminatrix – stella maris – domina? (St. Jerome). The Patristic Interpretation of the Name Mary - Selected Hypotheses

Magdalena Małgorzata Jóźwiak

Faculty of Theology, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin , Poland


In the patristic era, the etymology of biblical names was eagerly focused on because the Church Fathers were convinced that the names used in the Bible had a hidden meaning, as St. Augustine in De doctrina christiana 2, 38, 56-57 (cf. PL 34, 61-62). In the East, Origen dealt extensively with the etymology of names, while in the West, St. Jerome of Stridon. This article presents selected patristic interpretations of the name of Mary, based mainly on the interpretations of St. Jerome (cf. Liber de nominibus hebraicis, PL 23, 771-858), who was the first of the Fathers of the Western Church to deduce the etymology of names. I confront the etymologies proposed by him (Mary=illuminatrix/illuminata/illuminant me isti, smyrna maris, stella maris, amarum mare, domina) with the present state of knowledge about the Semitic languages ​​and I compare them with the Greek Onomastica sacra. In the last point, I analyze selected Post-Jerome interpretations of this name (Ambrose of Milan, Eucherius of Lyon, Isidore of Seville).


Fathers of the Church, St Jerome, etymology of the name of Mary, Name, Mary, Illuminatrix, Stella maris, Domina

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Benedykt XVI, Spe salvi, 30 listopada 2007, w: (dostęp: 12.10.2021).

Eucherius, Instructiones ad Salonium, PL 50, 773A-822D.

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Jóźwiak, M. M. (2021). Illuminatrix – stella maris – domina? (St. Jerome). The Patristic Interpretation of the Name Mary - Selected Hypotheses. Vox Patrum, 80, 161–176.

Magdalena Małgorzata Jóźwiak
Faculty of Theology, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin


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