Our Mother of
On the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, June 27, 2015, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) will begin a yearlong celebration to commemorate the restoration of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to public devotion. On December 11, 1865, the Holy Father, Blessed Pius IX, entrusted the icon to the Superior General of the Redemptorists, Fr. Nicholas Mauron, with the instruction: “Make her known throughout the world!”
The Story of the Icon
Although we are celebrating 150 years of devotion, the story of the icon goes back much further in time. Its origins cannot be determined with precision, but scientific analysis demonstrates that this icon was created sometime after 1300, probably on the island of Crete. The original artist is unknown. However, at some point in the 1400s, the icon was brought to Italy and venerated in a family home for some years before being placed in St. Matthew’s Church on the Via Merulana in Rome on March 27, 1499.
Tradition tells us that while the icon was in the possession of a Roman family, Mary herself appeared to the young daughter. Identifying herself as the Mother of Perpetual Help, Mary instructed the girl to tell her parents to place the icon for public veneration in the Church of St. Matthew. For 300 years, the icon was honored in St. Matthew’s Church. Veneration spread throughout the city of Rome.
Devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
For the last 150 years, the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help has accompanied the Redemptorist Missionaries wherever they have gone. Present in more than eighty countries, they have carried this devotion to every continent and corner of the world. Devotion to this icon is found in the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, as well as the Roman Catholic Church.
The icon of Perpetual Help is one of the best known and most loved images of Mary. Today, novena devotions—in churches and chapels, homes and hospitals, on TV and radio, and on the internet—nourish the faith and prayer of millions of faithful people.
(Abridged from The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help)
By Fr. Michael Brehl, CSsR