February 28, 2017

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help

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Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Join us at 7:30 am on Thursdays to pray the novena and the rosary prior to daily Mass.

Oh Mother of Perpetual Help,
grant that I may ever invoke
your powerful name,
the protection of the living
and the salvation of the dying.

Purest Mary,
let your name henceforth be ever on my lips.
Delay not, Blessed Lady,
to rescue me whenever I call on you.
In my temptations, in my needs,
I will never cease to call on you,
ever repeating your sacred name:
Mary, Mary.

What a consolation, what sweetness,
what confidence fills my soul
when I utter your sacred name
or even only think of you!

I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet,
so powerful, so lovely a name.
But I will not be content with merely uttering your name.
Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you
Mother of Perpetual Help.

Mother of Perpetual Help,
pray for me and grant me the favor
I confidently ask of you.

Hail Mary full of grace…..
Hail Mary full of grace…..
Hail Mary full of grace…..

The Story of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The history of this miracle-working icon begins in the year 1495 when the icon was stolen by a merchant sailing from the island of Crete to Rome.  During the voyage the merchant became very sick and by the time the ship reached Rome the merchant was on his death bed.  His dying wish, made to a second merchant, was that the icon be placed in a church where it could be venerated.  The second merchant was reluctant to give the icon away and when he confided in his wife about the icon she refused to give it to the church and instead hung it in her home.

It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to the merchant’s daughter, grandmother and neighbor imploring that the icon be turned over to a parish.   In Her appearance to the little girl, the Virgin Mary said that the icon ought to be located between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.  So the wife gave the icon to the Augustian Friars on March 29, 1499 and it was placed in the church of San Matteo in Via Merulana.  At that time, the icon was already considered to be of great age and was highly esteemed by the faithful.

For over 300 years the icon remained at San Matteo under the care of the Augustian Friars until the church was demolished during the French revolution.  During 1789 and 1885 the icon was moved to several different churches until Pope Pius the IX declared that the icon should be returned to Via Merulana at the new church of St. Alphonsus managed by the Redemptorist priests. Our Lady of Perpetual Help returned to her chosen site on April 26th, 1866, during which time numerous miracles took place.

An Icon, Not a Picture

The word icon means “to describe and image”.   Icons originated in ancient Greece and are still used today, often to describe people or symbols.  Iconography, the process of writing and painting icons, involves symbols that reveal messages hidden within a particular image. By gazing on an icon when we’re in a contemplative state of prayer, we can read the mystery found within the image.   Although people are attracted to the beauty of these images, they often miss the deeper meaning because they’re unfamiliar with the practice of reading and praying icons. Most icons are painted in a style that engages the viewer. The direction of eyes and placement of hands, as well as the colors and symbols around the icon, are fashioned with purpose.

It is traditional for us to “read” an icon as we do the sacred Scripture in order to more deeply appreciate the timeless message and begin to comprehend the richness of the symbolism they contain. Icons were painted for veneration and as a means for the faithful to express their religious beliefs in a special way to Jesus, Mary, saints, and angels.

Icons are windows into mystery. When we look into an icon with faith and devotion, we can feel a sense of being drawn into a living presence. Subjects seem to be looking at us through a window frame. We’re summoned into the presence of the active spiritual energy in the image.   

The Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Icon graphicLike all icons, the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is filled with symbolism (The graphic on this page provides the meaning of some of the symbols in the icon).  From the vibrant colors to Mary’s perplexing gaze a story is being told to its readers.

In the portrait, Mary is holding Jesus who is shown gripping the hand of this mother while looking at the

instruments of torture that will one day be used upon him.  Her head is gently touching that of her Son, and her gaze seems almost plaintive, as if seeking compassion from those who look upon her and her Divine Child.

In the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mary’s eyes draw you into the icon. Her look is one of great tenderness but also one of intensity. Her eyes are not directed toward  Jesus or toward the activity of the angels, but always facing toward the one who is looking at her. This is a special effect of Marian icons. Usually when the icon is pictured with Mary and the Child, we are to understand that Jesus is blessing anyone at whom his Mother is gazing upon.

Her Significance to the Guardian Angels Community

Devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is one of the most popular in Christendom with the hauntingly beautiful icon easily recognizable.  The first four icons installed in Redemptorist churches occurred in 1870, one in Chicago and three on the East coast.  Records indicate that Guardian Angels’ icon was “sent” in August of 1869, and that it is certainly one of the first to come to the U.S.  The icon was created in Rome and touched to the original icon with an official document attached to the back with red wax seals.  Today many of the icons no longer have the document, but the red wax is still visible.  This information is consistent with our history books which state that in 1871, Guardian Angels’ pastor, Fr. Mayr, traveled to Rome and brought back an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which was blessed by Pope Pius IX.  Fr. Mayr presented the icon to the parish and Guardian Angels’ community began to celebrate her feast day, June 27, annually.

On October 7, 1902, a fire destroyed what was once Guardian Angels Church.  The fire was so destructive that the steeple collapsed and nothing remained except the exterior walls and the blessed icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which hung on the east wall in 1902 .

The icon is now honored on the west side altar of the church. Since her arrival at Guardian Angels many miracles have occurred and have been recorded.  In some cases, wheel chairs, crutches and canes were left by her altar.

For More information you can go to: http://www.iconoflove.org/index.html

Guardian Angels’ Icon was also featured in the Redemportist Quarterly Newsletter DenverLink on 9/4/15.