The name Mary means “bitter sea”, and Saint Bonaventure saw this meaning as a reference to her role in spiritual warfare.
The Blessed Virgin was called Mary, a name in Hebrew that has a very interesting meaning.
The Hebrew form of Mary is miryam. and some Bible scholars have seen the Hebrew words there tue (bitter) and Yam (sea). This first meaning may refer to the bitter sufferings of Mary on the cross and her many tears of pain.
However, St. Bonaventure believed it referred to Mary’s role in spiritual warfare, as he explains in his Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This most holy, sweet, and dignified name suited such a holy, sweet, and dignified virgin perfectly. Because Mary means a bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminating. Mary is interpreted ‘lady.’ Mary is a bitter sea for the demons; for men, she is the star of the sea; for angels she is illuminator, and for all creatures she is lady.
He then continues to develop this point, delving deeper into the meaning of Mary’s name.
Mary is interpreted: “a bitter sea”; it suits perfectly his power against demons. Notice how Mary is a sea, and how she is bitter, and how she is both a sea and bitter. Mary is a sea through the abundant overflow of her graces; and Mary is a bitter sea by submerging the devil. Mary is truly a sea through the superabundant Passion of her Son; Mary is a bitter sea through her power over the devil, in which he is submerged and drowned.
This reflection of Saint Bonaventure, recalling the power of Mary over the demons, has been ratified by many exorcists.
The famous exorcist P. Gabriele Amorth confirmed this reality in his dialogues with the devil, when the devil said to him:I’m more afraid when you say the name of the Madonnabecause I am more humbled to be beaten by a mere creature, than by Him.
Although the name of Mary can be interpreted in many ways, it is interesting to see how a saint saw it in the light of spiritual warfare.