Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Feast Day 27th June
History Of The Image
The traditional picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a Byzantine-style icon, dated to the 13th century. Some records say that the writer of the image (one "writes" an icon) used Saint Luke the Evangelist's portrait of Mary as inspiration.
Painted on wood, it shows the Mother of God holding the Infant Jesus while the archangels Michael and Gabriel fly overhead, holding the instruments. of His Passion. His sandal dangles from one foot as if, startled and frightened by the glimpse of His future, the Child has fled to His Mother for comfort. The untied sandal also signifies that Mary alone is "fit to untie His sandal" (see Jn 1:27).
Greek letters over the figures form abbreviated words, naming the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel, respectively.
For many years, the icon was highly venerated on the island of Crete, until the island was conquered by the Turks in the 15th century. Fleeing from the invaders, a refugee from Crete took the holy picture, along with his belongings, and went to Rome.
Another version of the icon's history relates that it was brought to Rome at the end of the 15th century by a merchant. It is unclear whether the merchant bought or stole the image. Either in piety or remorse, he requested in his will that the picture be placed in a church for public veneration. It was taken to the Augustinian church of San Matteo, on the Via Merulana, the pilgrims' route between Santa Maria Maggiore and San Giovanni Laterano. For nearly three hundred years, the image—called Madonna di San Matteo—was the subject of great devotion.
When Napoleon's army invaded Rome In 1812, many churches were destroyed, including San Matteo on the Via Merulana. The icon mysteriously disappeared.
Fifty years later, a monk's mysterious dreams and the explorations of an inquisitive little boy lead to the discovery of the icon, hidden away in the attic of an Augustinian oratory at Santa Maria in Posterula.
Upon hearing of the rediscovery of the icon, Pope Pius IX, who remembered praying before the picture in San Matteo as a small boy, ordered that it should again be displayed on the Via Merulana pilgrims' route. This time, it was housed in the new Redemptorist church of San Alphonsus, built on the ruins of San Matteo. It can be seen there today.
In imitation of St Cajetan who was very devoted to Our Lady, let us fly to her protection and shelter under her mantle. She offers her help freely and perpetually to all who would but ask for it and turns no one away!