In both Eastern and Western Rites, the icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God) under her title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is piously venerated by the faithful. The 15th-century Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been in Rome since 1499 and is permanently enshrined in the church of Sant’Alfonso di Liguori, where the official Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is prayed weekly. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, this icon is more commonly known as the Virgin of the Passion or Theotokos of the Passion due to the instruments of Our Lord’s Passion being present on the image.
Depicted in the holy icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jesus, while safely cradled in his mother’s arms, looks anxiously at St. Gabriel the Archangel, who holds the cross and nails for His Crucifixion. St. Michael the Archangel, at left, holds the lance, spear, and the vessel of vinegar and gall for our Lord’s Passion as well. The Blessed Mother looks at us solemnly, perhaps as if in contemplation of her beloved Son’s future Passion and death for our salvation.
The intercession of the Blessed Mother with her Divine Son has helped provide strength, comfort and even miracles to the faithful for centuries! Remember that when we ask the Holy Theotokos to intercede for us, we are not choosing to worship her over her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus. She is “our Mother on the order of grace” and all the graces Mary gives us come directly from our Lord. She is always ready to intercede with Him on our behalf. As we approach her with sincerely humble and contrite hearts, we can count on Our Lady’s aid and guidance. Mary’s last spoken words in the Gospels concerned her Son when she said at the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee:
“Do whatever he tells You” (John 2:5).
In the following prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we pay tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary in asking for her assistance:
Oh, Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me the favor I confidently ask of you. Amen!
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