What is the Story of Stella Maris?

What is the Story of Stella Maris?

Happy feast day to Stella & Tide’s patron saint, Our Lady, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris)! The history behind this much-loved title of Mary is intriguing; however, the devotion extends much deeper than the name. You may already have a strong devotion to Mary, Star of the Sea, or maybe you are less familiar with this title and want to learn more, but regardless of where you stand, here are some facts about Stella Maris that you may or may not have known.

Behind the Name

The title “Stella Maris” first arose back in the 5th Century when St. Jerome translated Mary’s Hebrew name Miryam, which means “drop of the sea” to the Latin “Stilla Maris”. Mary later went from a “drop in the ocean” to the “star of the sea” when “Stilla Maris” became “Stella Maris”. This was most likely due to transcription error, or a peasant dialect and it stuck throughout the centuries. 

Spiritual Significance

Mary, Star of the Sea, has been a beloved title for those who make a living by or on the sea, as she is the calmer of storms and a guiding light. Before the time of GPS technology, sailors solely relied on key stars to help them navigate where they were going. During the Middle Ages, the North Star actually went by the name “Stella Maris”. Sailors can always rely on the North Star to lead them, as it remains fixed in the same location throughout the night. Similarly, Mary remains firm in heaven helping to guide souls and offering her protection.   

A Guiding Light

Just as sailors call upon Mary to intercede as a guide and protector as they face stormy seas, we can do the same as we sail the stormy seas of life. St. Bernard of Clairvaux so beautifully wrote, 

“If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary.”   

Mary is our guiding star to Jesus and can calm the storms in our own lives. Just as sailors back in the Middle Ages did not have access to a navigation system that could lead them to safety during their travels, we do not have access to a map that will lead us straight to heaven. However, we can call upon Mary, the greatest saint in heaven, to lead us to Jesus and the shores of heaven. 

Modern Devotion

Throughout the centuries and into the modern day, strong devotion to Mary as Star of the Sea has led to many churches, schools, lighthouses, and colleges including the name “Stella Maris”.  Many hymns and prayers also emerged during the Middle Ages, such as the beautiful Gregorian chants Ave Maris Stella and Alma Redemptoris Mater.

At Stella & Tide, we've created a collection of catholic jewelry dedicated to this beautiful title of our Blessed Mother called the Stella Maris Collection. Our hope is that you can wear these pieces as a reminder that Mary can calm the storms of our lives and is the Star of the Sea we follow to Christ.

Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us!


6 comments

  • Kimberly Thompson

    I wore my Stella and Tide cross and miraculously medal necklace today. Now I know why. I am going to look for some artwork of Stella Maris now! Thank you!!!
    ———
    Stella & Tide replied:
    Ah, we’re so glad to hear that, Kimberly! 😊 Thank you for your comment!

    Here’s a Stella Maris print that we love (it’s framed in our office right now): https://www.santaclaradesign.com/products/star-of-the-sea-stella-maris-art-print-36252?

  • Mary

    Ave Maris stella
    ———
    Stella & Tide replied:
    Amen!

  • Stella & Tide

    Wow! You have so many family stories with Stella Maris! I love that your parent’s house is called Star of the Sea – how interesting! Thank you so much for sharing, Colette.

    -Carrie

  • Colette

    My Grandmother was going to call her daughter Stella Maris, however she ended up having twins. My parents house is called Star of the Sea, they live in a town by the Sea and we have loved growing up by the sea. My mum’s great uncle was an Irish fisherman and died at sea.

  • Stella & Tide

    Thank you so much for sharing your meaningful story with us, David. This title is certainly one of our favorites as well!

    -Carrie


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