This is part of our 2023 “Behold, your mother” series, which will feature a different personage of Mary each month. Search the “Mary” filter on the blog to find the whole series.
The feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, is celebrated on June 27. The devotion originates from a Byzantine-style icon of Our Lady, known and loved throughout the world. Our Lady of Perpetual Help will not refuse a request if it is for our good. Even Our Lord did not refuse her intercession at the wedding of Cana.
The history of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Accounts of the origin of the icon vary, but it is generally agreed that the icon made its way to Rome towards the end of the 15th century. It was exposed in the Church of San Matteo for 300 years and is attributed as the source of many miracles. The church was destroyed by the French Revolution but the icon was rescued and stored in a private chapel by some Irish monks and forgotten by many. At the request of Pope Pius IX, who remembered praying before the icon as a young boy, it was made public again for pilgrims to venerate the icon once more. It can be found today in the church of St. Alfonso.
Significance of the icon
The Christ Child looks fearfully at the two angels showing Him the instrument of His passion to come. In haste, He runs to His Mother, almost losing a sandal, which hangs from his foot. He presses His hands into those of Our Lady for comfort. We too can run to Our Lady with our fears, as Christ did.
Fear and infertility
The sadness and grief of infertility have at times been so intense, I fall into the temptation of despair. I can so quickly forget all the good and mercy God has always shown me. At the root of this is a fear that God is not who He says He is.
In the nearly seven years that I have been married and experiencing the sorrow of this cross, Our Lady has been so gentle and loving. There is a softness in Mary’s femininity that makes it easier to run to at times when my faith is tested. I am grateful for this icon and the reminder that in prayer I too can run to Mary with my fears.
"The tears shed at the foot of the Cross have been transformed into a smile which nothing can wipe away, even as her maternal compassion towards us remains unchanged. The intervention of the Virgin Mary in offering succour throughout history testifies to this, and does not cease to call forth, in the people of God, an unshakable confidence in her: the Memorare prayer expresses this sentiment very well. Mary loves each of her children, giving particular attention to those who, like her Son at the hour of his Passion, are prey to suffering; she loves them quite simply because they are her children, according to the will of Christ on the Cross."1
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
1His Holiness Benedict XVI, "Homily" Vatican Library, September 15, 2008, https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20080915_lourdes-malati.html.
“Behold, your mother” prayer cards
“Behold, your mother” is a series of blog posts throughout 2023 exploring different titles and personages of Mary and how we can let her mother us. Many posts in this series have an accompanying prayer card. To receive a free printable version of any of the prayer cards, subscribe to our email list and receive the download information for free by email each month.