The Holy Name Society traces its roots to the Council of Lyons in the year 1274. The Albigensian Heresy was posing a serious challenge to the Medieval Church. This heresy was devastating society – it challenged the divinity of Christ, repudiated all of the sacraments of the Church and encouraged taking one’s life. Pope Gregory X convened a special council of Bishops in Lyons, France. The Council prescribed that the faithful should have a special devotion to the Holy Names of God and Jesus in reparation of the insults offered to it by the Albigensian blasphemers. The Dominican Order was asked to spread this devotion in a special letter to Blessed John of Vercelli, Master General of the Dominican Order. The Dominican’s fervently executed the pope’s command, preaching everywhere the power and glory of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Through the efforts of St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) and St. John Capistran (1385-1456) to promote devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus in the lay faithful, the Franciscan Order initiated Confraternities to the Holy Name of Jesus in the 16th century. Pope Julius II (1503-1513) granted two separate indulgences to this confraternity (History of Development of Devotion to the Holy Name, P.R. Biasiotto, O.F.M., 1943)
Through the efforts of the Dominican Order, confraternities to the most Holy Name of God were instituted. The Church formally recognized the Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God in 1571 when Pope Pius V gave the Dominican Order sole jurisdiction over this society in his Bull Decet Romanum.
In 1727 Pope Benedict XIII confirmed various privileges on both the Society of God and the Society of the Name of Jesus in his document the Pretiosus. The two confraternities were essentially merged under the name Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God and Jesus by Pope Benedict XIII on 26th of May 1727 when he gave exclusive rights to both the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of God and the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of Jesus to the Orders of Friar Preachers – the Dominicans. On February 1, 1970, in New Orleans, a national association of the holy name society was instituted at the national convention. Today the only titles used for these Societies is the Society of the Holy Name or Holy Name Society. Be its origin what it may, there is no doubt that ultimately it is from God. By its fruits you shall know it. And the fruit of the Holy Name Society shows it receives its strength from the root that is Jesus Christ.