The feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is celebrated on June 27.
Many people believe the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was originally painted by St. Luke. It is presently in the Church of St. Alphonsus under the care of the Order of Redemptorists. Numerous miracles have followed the icon.
The icon is an authentic expression of Byzantine art from ancient times. The gold background reflects God’s glory. In the portrait are Mary, the Mother of God, the Christ Child and the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Mary is gazing at the person who is looking at the icon moving everyone to love Jesus her son and Our Savior. The Christ Child is comforted in his mother’s arms. One of his sandals is almost lost indicating that we sometimes need to seek assistance in our troubles. It is Mary who protected Our Lord in his childhood. She will protect us also.
The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was first venerated in Crete. Tradition tells us however, that in 1480 the icon was smuggled from Crete to Rome by a thief! The smugglers asked Mary for protection during a storm at sea and God answered their prayers. After arriving in Rome, the merchant who had stolen the icon became very ill. He asked his caretaker to return the icon to the Church. The wife of the caretaker however insisted they keep the picture for themselves after the man had died. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared several times to the man and his wife requesting that the icon be returned to a church. When she was ignored, she began appearing to their six year old daughter, requesting that the icon be placed between the Churches of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Eventually, the icon was returned and enshrined at St. Matthews in 1499. St. Matthews was destroyed when Napoleon’s army invaded Rome in 1798. The icon was believed to be lost.
In 1855, The Order of Redemtorists came to Rome. They were granted possession of the land on which St. Matthew’s previously existed to build a new church. A Redemptorist priest remembered that he had learned as a young boy that the holy icon was in an Augustinian monastery near Rome. The Redemptorists petitioned the pope to allow the image to be returned to the spot the Blessed Virgin had requested that it be placed.
On April 26, 1866 the icon was transferred in a solemn procession to the Church of St. Alphonsus. They were given permission to spread the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Prayer to Our Lady:
Mother of Perpetual Help, Woman of Eternal Hope, your wordless gaze tells us so much about you. Knowing eyes look upon us with tender love. The slight bend of your head reveals such maternal concern. While your left hand supports the Child, your right hand is ready to receive us, too. Just as He feels the beating of your heart, so you encourage us to lead a life of hope and holiness. Just as His sandal will fall on your lap, through your intercession may God pick us up as we stumble and fall. Never let us be parted from you and your son, Jesus.
Lady of love, you invite us to place our hand where His fingers touch yours — near a heart of endless hope — so that we may be united often in prayer here on earth and joined forever with you in heaven. Amen.
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.
Quote of St. Maximilian Kolbe; Feast Day August 14
June is the Month of the Sacred Heart.