With summer upon us, it’s time again for the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine.
Did you ever wonder how this devotion came about? The earliest records place the icon on the island of Crete in 1497.
A merchant took it with him to Rome, intending to place it in a church for all to venerate. But when he arrived there,
he took sick; on his deathbed he gave it to his best friend – requesting him to give it to a church. The man’s wife,
however, liked the icon and kept it in their home. Our Lady appeared twice to the man, warning him that he would be
punished for not carrying out her wishes. Soon after that, he died. Mary appeared to his young daughter, directing
that the icon be placed in a church halfway between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The church
halfway between these two was St. Matthew’s.
The Augustinian friars who staffed the church eagerly accepted the icon on March 27, 1499. The popular icon was
venerated there for 300 years until the French invaded Rome and burned many of the churches, including St. Matthew’s.
Fortunately, the Augustinians took the icon with them when they fled to St. Mary Posterula, where it was placed above
the altar in a side chapel. Many years later, the Redemptorists set up their motherhouse on a vacant lot on Via Merulana
in Rome…the same spot where St. Matthew’s had stood.
One day at recreation, one of the priests mentioned reading an account of the former shrines of Our Lady in Rome.
He stated how the icon of Perpetual Help used to reside in St. Matthew’s that stood near their motherhouse – and
how the icon had been lost. Young Fr. Marchi piped up: “No, it isn’t. It’s in the chapel at St. Mary Posterula
where I used to serve Mass.”
Upon checking, this proved to be true. Meanwhile, Pope Pius IX had heard about this and convinced the Augustinians
to allow the icon to return to its original location – now the Church of St. Alphonsus!
On April 26, 1866, a solemn procession lead the venerable icon back to its original location – right where Mary had
wanted it. A four-year-old dying boy was cured, and an eight-year-old paralyzed girl was restored to full health.
Soon the sanctuary of the church was filled with abandoned crutches and canes – testimony to the power of this
Join us on August 10-11 as we honor Our Lady of Perpetual Help and invoke her powerful aid and healing for ourselves
and our fallen world.
The 2012 pilgrimage will be held on Friday and Saturday, August
10-11. We hope to see you there.
Prayer for the Pilgrimage:
O Mother of Perpetual Help, our most beloved Theotokos, intercede for us. Ask your Son, Our Lord Jesus
Christ, to pour out His blessings upon your shrine. Our dear Patroness and Protectress, beg God the Father
to bless the pilgrims and benefactors of this shrine and grant their holy intentions. Ask the Holy Spirit
to grant us a time of great spiritual growth and mercy at this pilgrimage in your honor. Lead us always to
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. Amen
By Lori Baron
You may find the Pilgrimage schedule and
directions to the Shrine using the links to the left or below.
The Directions page also lists accomodations and amenities. Camping is available on the Shrine grounds.
You may also find out more about the annual pilgrimage, the Shrine, its visitors, and the continuing efforts to
complete the construction of the shrine by reading the newsletters. The current newsletter is the
Summer 2012 edition. Join us this month in giving honor
and praise to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and her divine Son!