The icon of Our Mother Perpetual Help is one of the most well known and loved images of Mama Mary. The original icon is enshrined in the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome which I was fortunate to visit last 2009. This June 27, 2016 will be it’s 150th Jubilee.
History can be traced back to year 1495, when this ancient image was enshrined in a church on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean sea. When the island was threatened by invaders, the icon was carried off, perhaps stolen, by a merchant who took it with him to Rome. This man upon arriving in Rome became severely ill. Before his death, he begged his friend to bring it to one of the churches in Rome so it can be publicly venerated. Upon his death however, the friend’s wife kept the painting in their home for several months. One night, the Lady appeared to the man in a dream & warned him not to keep the picture. Twice she appeared to him, and twice he disregarded the warning. The third time, She warned her that if he still disobeys he would die a miserable death. So the man tried to convince his wife to give up the painting, but she refused. Our Lady appeared to him for the last time and told him of his impending death, within a short time, he became sick and died.
Our Lady appeared to the man’s 6 year old daughter, telling her to tell her mother, “Holy Mother of Perpetual Help commands you to take her out of the house.” The mother, who saw the same vision, was terrified and was about to give the icon but her neighbor convinced her that she should not pay attention to just a dream. That night the neighbor became ill, realizing her fault, she made a solemn promise to the Lady and then was immediately cured. Again, the Lady manifested herself to the young girl, asked her to tell her mother to place her image in a church between St. Mary Major’s and St. John Lateran’s. That same day, March 27, 1499, the icon was delivered with a solemn procession to the church of St. Matthew the apostle. It was a quaint church and even before the image entered it’s walls, a paralyzed man was healed after the icon passed by his house.
For 300 years, this humble church where the miraculous icon was placed became a famous pilgrimage in Rome. But came the Napoleonic armies and overrun Italy, General Massena ordered the destruction of St. Matthew’s and other churches in Rome. The icon was saved by the Augustinian Order who was taking care of that church and hid it for the next 68 years.
The church of St. Alphonsus was built near the site of St. Matthew’s by the Redemptorist Order. In 1866, Pope Pius IX ordered that the icon be given to Redemptorists and place it where the Lady has chosen it to be, in St. Alphonsus’ church. He also encouraged – Mary under the title of – Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) make known to the world. They have successfully done this, that’s why there are many shrines of Our Mother of Perpetual Help throughout the world, and became shrines of great devotion and prayers.
One of the icons is located in Redemptorist church in Baclaran, where my devotion to Mama Mary has started. Every Wednesday there’s novena masses hourly, and prayers of devotees like myself has been heard many times and even to this day I continue to trust on the Perpetual Help from Our Mother…