The Picture

The original picture painted on gold ground, is the work of a devout and skillful master. The best judges concede that it must have been painted in the 13th or 14th century, in the East, as its Grecian or Byzantine style plainly shows. The Blessed Mother, in half-figure, has her child on her left arm, and in her right hand, she holds the hand of her Divine Infant. Her beautiful eyes are directed towards the beholder with an expression of tender reproach, and speak eloquently of her great anguish at the sufferings of her Son. On either side of her head are four Greek letters, which stand for the words "Mother of God."

The Divine Infant is in full figure. On his head is a crown. He wears sandals, one of which is fastened to his left foot, the other hangs loose from the right. Over his left shoulder are the Greek letters signifying "Jesus Christ." He clasps his mother's right hand in both his own, as though seeking protection from the instrument of His Passion, presented to Him by the two angels at his side. The Angel on the right, over whom are to be seen in Greek the initials of the name of "Michael the Archangel," presents to the Holy Child, the Lance, the Reed and the Sponge of His future Passion, while the Angel on the left holds up before His gaze four nails and a cross, with two beams, as well as the tablet of the inscription; over Him are the initials in Greek of "Gabriel the Archangel." The drapery of the picture is exquisite.

History of The Picture

The original picture, just described, was venerated for many years in the Island of Crete (now called Candia), when upon an invasion by the Turks, about 400 years ago, it was taken away by a pious merchant of that Island to escape profanation. Having been the means of enlisting the power of the Mother of God during a violent storm which occurred on the voyage, a landing was finally made at Ostia, near Rome. At Rome, by a clear manifestation of God's will, the picture was to remain. The pious merchant, falling grievously ill, and feeling death's approach, summoned his host and friend, and exacting from him a strict promise that he would have the picture set up for veneration in one of the churches of Rome, he confided the precious treasure to his care, and then breathed his last. Now become manifest the wondrous ways of God. The wife of the man who had the holy picture confided to him, conceiving a strong natural affection for the Madonna, deaf to her husband's representations, finally prevailed upon him to disregard his promise and retain the picture. Three different times the Blessed Mother appeared in a dream to the unhappy man to remind him of his obligation. Affrighted, he related these occurrences to his wife, who only laughed at his credulity. A fourth time Our Blessed Lady appeared, and said to him in a tone of great severity: "I have now warned thee three times, but in vain,--I see there is no other means of leaving thy house, than that thou be first carried out of it." Very soon after the man died.

The husband's death seems to have been no warning to the obstinate widow. A new warning was at hand. One day her daughter, a young innocent girl, came running to her, saying: "Mother, I have just seen, in our house, oh, such a beautiful Lady, who said to me, 'Go tell your mother and your grandfather that the 'Mother of Perpetual Help' (for the Blessed Virgin gave herself this sweet title) 'wishes her picture to be set up for public veneration in one of the churches in Rome.'" The mother, deeply moved, was about to comply. But a wicked woman of the neighborhood, hearing of the mother's determination, violently opposed the plan, and at the same time insulted and blaspemed Our Blessed Lady. Instant retribution followed. She was stricken down with mortal illness, but repentant and confessing her crime, was permitted to touch the holy picture, when she was instantly cured. The evident miracle conquered the widow's obstinacy. But now the question presented itself: "To which of the three hundred churches of Rome shall the picture be given?" Our Blessed Lady herself graciously deigned to answer this question, by appearing a second time to the child and saying to her: "I desire to have my home between my beloved Church of St. Mary Major, and that of my dear adopted son John (St. John Lateran)." Between these two Basilicas stood the Church of St. Matthew, at that time in charge of the religious of the Augustinian Order. To the Prior, then, of these religious the Picture was given.

On March 27th, 1499, by a triumphant procession through the streets of Rome, the picture was solemnly installed over the High Altar of the Church of St. Matthew, where, for three hundred years it was the fruitful source of numberless graces and favors to the Romans and their neighbors. In the year 1600, a Roman historian writes: "In the Church of St. Matthew is a picture of the Blessed Virgin, which, from the numbers of miracles wrought and the countless graces received, well merits to be regarded as Miraculous.

During the French occupation of Rome (18091814) the Church of St. Matthew was demolished by order of the usurping government, compelling the Augustinian Fathers to abandon their monastery. On removing to the Church of Santa Maria, in Posterula, they took with them the miraculous picture but no longer exposed it for public veneration, dreading sacrilegious profanation. One by one the older members of the Community, who had known the Church of St. Matthew in happier days, passed away. In the year 1846, however, two persons were praying in the oratory of the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Maria, in Posterula, one an old man of more than seventy years, the other a youth. Suddenly the old man, pointing out to the youth this long-forgotten picture of the Madonna of Perpetual Help, on the wall of the oratory, said impressively, "This picture was formerly held in great veneration in the Church of St. Matthew, and every year a feast was celebrated in its honor." The speaker was an Augustinian Brother, Orsette by name, the last survivor of the Community of St. Matthew. The youth, Michael Marchi by name, looked attentively at the picture, but attached no great importance to the old Brother's words. Towards the close of his life, Brother Orsette, now almost blind, took great pleasure in conversing with young Marchi of his dear Madonna, her glory and the magnificent feasts of former days. He would sometimes say, with great earnestness and in a mysterious way, "You understand, Michael, that the Madonna, so long venerated in St. Matthew's is the one you see here in the chapel. Mind, don't forget it," adding, "I tell you, Michael, this is certain. Do you hear me? Do you understand what I say? Oh, how many miracles this picture has wrought! Oh, it was indeed miraculous!" The young Marchi listened and "kept all these things in his heart."

Not long after the death of Orsette (1853), Pope Pius IX. ordered the Superior-General of the Redemptorists to transfer the Central House of the Order from Naples to Rome; hence, the Redemptorists, in June, 1854, purchased, on the Esquiline, the Villa Caserta, an old Roman palace, in the garden of which were still visible some ruins of the Church of St. Matthew. The house was transformed into a monastery, and a new church was built close by, dedicated to St. Alphonsus, the founder of the Redemptorist Order. One of the Fathers of Villa Caserta, searching one day among some old books and manuscripts for historical information concerning the site on the Esquiline, discovered some valuable documents relating to the ruined Church of St. Matthew, and in particular to a Picture of Our Lady, famous for its many miracles. When he gave an account of what he had found out, one of the Fathers suddenly exclaimed, "I know where this miraculous Madonna is. I have seen it myself many a time, in the chapel of the Augustinians of Sancta Maria, in Posterula." The Father who thus spoke was none other than the youthful confidant of Brother Orsette, Michael Marchi, who had become a Redemptorist soon after the foundation of the Villa Caserta. He died there in January, 1886.

One Saturday, in February, 1863, Father Blosi, S. J., preaching on the glories of Mary, took for his subject the ancient and miraculous "Picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help," recalling its past glory and how the Blessed Mother had made known her will, that the picture should be placed for veneration in a church situated between St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. The Redemptorists were deeply impressed when they heard of this sermon, for many providential circumstances pointed clearly to their own Church of St. Alphonsus as the new sanctuary chosen by Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The Very Rev. Father Mauron having waited two years longer and after many prayers offered to ascertain God's will, on December 11th, 1865, had an audience with Pope Pius the IXth, in which he presented a supplication, that His Holiness would deign to grant to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer the possession of that venerable picture. Pius IX. gladly signed the petition, and January 19th, 1866, after a banishment of sixty years, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was again brought back to a sanctuary between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

On April 26th, the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and of St. Cletus, the Pope, who first built the Church of St. Matthew, the holy picture was carried in solemn procession through decorated streets, amid the acclamations of more than 20,000 people, to its place in the Church of St. Alphonsus.

During the Triduum more than 50,000 persons came to honor the sacred picture. Again, as in 1499. Mary strewed her path with graces and miracles. On May 5th, Pius IX. himself came to honor the Madonna. He had already placed a copy of the original picture in his Chapel.

The Chapter of St. Peter at Rome has the custom of crowning with a golden diadem the most illustrious and venerated pictures of the Madonna. On the Sunday preceding the Feast of St. John Baptist, the Dean of the Chapter confided the crown to the Most Rev. Father-General of the Redemptorists, after receiving from him an oath, that it would always remain over the picture. Mass and the ceremony of coronation followed, whilst outside the roaring of cannon and the pealing of bells announced, that the Picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was numbered among those worthy of the title miraculous.

The beneficent action of miraculous pictures is generally confined within certain limits, and does not extend beyond the shrine where the original picture is venerated, but not so in regard to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Her sweet influence extends wherever this devotion is practised.

The devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help soon spread throughout the Christian world. Exact copies of the beautiful picture were made, and a greater value was given them by the fact that they were touched to the original picture in Rome. Notwithstanding the unholy carpings of captious critics, there is nothing unreasonable in this practice. If we treasure a lock of hair of some dear departed one; if we stand with reverent mien in the apartment used by a saint of God, and there yield our soul to holy reveries; if we value at an unspeakable price a shred of the garment, or a tiny bone of God's heroes and heroines; if we kiss with reverent love those spots pressed by the Saviour's feet; why should we not place a special value upon that which has touched a wonder-working picture, made illustrious by God's holy Mother?




Prayer and Consecration to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Most holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, whom I love to honor under the lovely title of Mother of Perpetual Help, I, N., although most unworthy to be thy servant, yet moved by thy wonderful compassion and by my desire to serve thee, now choose thee, in the presence of my guardian angel and of the whole celestial court, for my queen, advocate, and mother: and I firmly purpose always to love and serve thee for the future, and to do whatever I can to induce others to love and serve thee also. I beseech thee, O Mother of God, and my most compassionate and loving Mother, by the blood which thy Son shed for me, to receive me into the number of thy servants, to be thy child and servant forever. Assist me in my thoughts, words, and actions every moment of my life, so that all may be directed to the greater glory of my God; and through thy most powerful intercession, may I never more offend my beloved Jesus, but may I glorify Him, and love Him in this life, and love thee also, my most tender and dear Mother, so that I may love thee and enjoy thee in heaven and bless God for all eternity. Amen.




Indulgences

The faithful who devoutly recite the three prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, saying the Hail Mary at least three times, may gain: An indulgence of 500 days.



Novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Behold at Thy feet, O Mother of Perpetual Help! a wretched sinner who has recourse to Thee, and confides in Thee. O Mother of Mercy! have pity on me. I hear Thee called by all, the Refuge and the Hope of sinners; be then, my refuge and my hope. Assist me, for the love of Jesus Christ; stretch forth Thy hand to a miserable fallen creature, who recommends himself to Thee, and who devotes himself to Thy service forever. I bless and thank Almighty God, Who in His mercy has given me this confidence in Thee, which I hold to be a pledge of my eternal salvation. It is true, dearest Mother, that in the past I have miserably fallen into sin, because I had not recourse to Thee. I know, that with Thy help, I shall conquer. I know, too, that Thou wilt assist me, if I recommend myself to Thee; but I fear, dear Mother that in time of danger, I may neglect to call on thee and thus lose my soul. This grace, then, I ask of Thee, and this I beg, with all the fervor of my soul, that, in all the attacks of hell, I may ever have recourse to Thee. O Mary! help me; O Mother of Perpetual Help, never suffer me to lose my God.

Hail Mary (nine times)


O Mother of Perpetual Help! grant that I may ever invoke Thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary! O Sweetest Mary! Let Thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady! to help me whenever I call on Thee; for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on Thee, ever repeating Thy Sacred Name, Mary! Mary! O, what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fills my soul when I utter Thy Sacred Name, or even only think of Thee! I thank the Lord for having given Thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering Thy name. Let my love for Thee prompt me ever to hail Thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Hail Mary (nine times)


Mother of Perpetual Help. Thou art the dispenser of all the gifts which God grants to us miserable sinners; and for this end He has made Thee so powerful, so rich and so bountiful in order that Thou mayest help us in our misery. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners who have recourse to Thee; come to my aid, dearest Mother, for I recommend myself to Thee. In Thy hands I place my eternal salvation, and to Thee I entrust my soul. Count me among Thy most devoted servants; take me under Thy protection, and it is enough for me. For, if Thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins because Thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because Thou art more powerful than all hell together; nor even from Jesus, my Judge, because by one prayer from Thee, He will be appeased. But one thing I fear, that in the hour of temptation, I may through negligence fail to have recourse to Thee and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me, therefore, the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perserverance, and the grace to have recourse to Thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen


Hail Mary (nine times)







Litany of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

For Private Use Only.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.
Mother of Christ,
pray for us.
Queen conceived without the stain of Original Sin,
pray for us.
Queen of the most Holy Rosary,
pray for us.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help,
pray for us.

O Mother of Perpetual Help,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may love God with all my heart,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may in all things conform my will to that of thy Divine Son,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may always shun sin, the only real evil,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may always remember my last end,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may often and devoutly receive the Sacraments,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may avoid every proximate occasion of sin,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may never neglect prayer,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may ever remember to invoke thee,
particularly in time of temptation,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may always be victorious in the hour of temptation,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may generously pardon my enemies,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may arise quickly, should I have the misfortune
of falling into mortal sin,
Come to my aid. O loving Mother.
That I may courageously resist the seductions of evil companions,
Come to my aid. O loving Mother.
That I may be strong against my own inconstancy,
Come to my aid. O loving Mother.
That I may not delay my conversion from day to day,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may labor zealously to eradicate my evil habits,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may ever love to serve thee,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may lead others to love and serve thee,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
That I may live and die in the friendship of God,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In all necessities of body and soul,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In sickness and pain,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In poverty and distress,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In persecution and abandonment,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In grief and dereliction of mind,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In time of war, famine and contagion,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
In every danger of sin,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When assailed by the evil spirits,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When tempted by the allurements of a deceitful world,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When struggling against the inclinations of my corrupt nature,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When tempted against the holy virtue of purity,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When death is nigh,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When the loss of my senses shall warn me that my
earthly career is at an end,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When the thought of my approaching dissolution shall fill me with fear and terror,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When at the decisive hour of death, the evil spirit will endeavor
to plunge my soul into despair,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When the priest of God shall give me Extreme Unction,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When my friends and relations, surrounding my bed moved with compassion,
shall invoke thy clemency on my behalf,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When the world will vanish from my sight, and my heart will cease to beat,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When I shall yield my soul into the hands of its Creator,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When my soul will appear before its Sovereign Judge,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When the irrevocable sentence will be pronounced,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.
When I will be suffering in Purgatory, and sighing for the vision of God,
Come to my aid, O loving Mother.


Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord!.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, our powerful Mediatrix,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O Almighty and merciful God, Who, in order to succor the human race, hast willed the Blessed Virgin Mary to become the Mother of Thy only-begotten Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that by her intercession we may avoid the contagion of sin and serve Thee with a pure heart, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.






Prayer for the Conversion of Sinners

O Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, thou knowest so well the great value of an immortal soul. Thou knowest what it means, that every soul has been redeemed by the Blood of thy Divine Son; thou wilt then not despise my prayer, if I ask from thee the conversion of a sinner, nay, a great sinner who is rapidly hurrying on towards eternal ruin. Thou, O good, merciful Mother, knowest well his irregular life.

Remember, then, that thou art the refuge of sinners, remember that God has given thee power to bring about the conversion of even the most wretched sinners. All that has been done for his soul has been unsuccessful; if thou dost not come to his assistance, he will go from bad to worse. Obtain for him an effectual grace that he may be moved and brought back to God and his duties. Send him, if necessary, temporal calamities and trials, that he may enter into himself, and put an end to his sinful course.

Thou, O most merciful Mother, hast converted so many sinners at the intercession of their friends. Be moved also by my prayer, and bring this unhappy soul to true conversion of heart. O Mary, help; O Mother of Perpetual Succor, show that thou art the advocate and refuge of sinners. So I hope, so may it be.






Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

O Holy Virgin Mary! Thy sweet name, "Mother of Perpetual Help," inspires me with unlimited confidence. I beg of thee to help me at all times and in all places; in my temptations, after my falls, in all my difficulties, in all the miseries of this life; but above all at the hour of my death. May I always have recourse to thee, for I feel sure that if I invoke thee faithfully, thou wilt be faithful in helping me. Obtain for me, then, the grace to pray to thee with the confidence of a child in order that I may secure thy perpetual help and final perseverance. Bless me, O tender Mother; and pray for me now and at the hour of my death. Amen.






Ejaculation

My Lady and my Mother, remember I am thine; protect and defend me as thy property and possession.






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