Perpetual Help Devotions

Devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help are celebrated after the 8 AM daily Mass each Tuesday. Cards with the prayers are placed on the table in the vestibule before Mass each Tuesday.

The Image

The picture of [Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also know as] Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively. It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of St. Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress. These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula.

The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dec., 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual [Help] should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of St. Alphonsus. The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (23 June, 1867). He fixed the feast... on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. [The feast is now celebrated on June 27th.] ... He was amongst the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity. [Many thousands of] facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from St. Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world. At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual [Help]. -Catholic Encyclopedia

While the author of the icon is unknow, it has been scientifically dated to the 1300's. It some who came from the Greek island of Crete ended up in Rome in the 1500's. The icon was briefly lost in 1798 when French troops took over Rome and took the Pope prisioner. In 1855 the image was again found, and Pope Pius IX put the Redemptorists in charge of promoting devotion to Mary under this title. The original image was restored in 1990.

The icon at St. Joseph is of some note to our local community too. It was painted by a religious brother and survived the fire in the old church in Kimmswick.

What the Image Means

Mother of Perpetual Help, today we face so many difficulties. Your picture tells us so much about you. It reminds us to reach out and help those in need. Help us understand that our lives belong to others as much as they belong to us.-Perpetual Help Devotions

This icon is rich in symbols:

  • Mary's dress is dark red, representing Jesus's Passion and death.
  • Mary wears a blue mantle. Although it is hard to see under her veil. This represent her perpetual virginity.
  • Her dark blue veil is a sign of her modesty
  • She looks out towards us, and points us to Jesus.
  • Jesus looks over his shoulder to Gabriel the Archangel who carries the cross and nails to him. 
  • Jesus looks scared, and his sandle is half fallen off, as if he ran to his mother for comfort and help.
  • On the other side Michael the Archangel carries the lance and the sponge. The other instruments of Christ's passion.
  • The name Mary, or Maria in Latin, has been interpeted as meaning "Star of the Sea."  So Mary wears a star on her head veil.
  • Some versions of the image show Mary and Jesus crowned. The crowns were added by Pope Pius IX to further honor the image.
  • The proportion is purposely wrong, Mary is bigger than she should be, as she can hold Jesus in a single hand. This emphasizes that the picture is telling us about her.

The Devotion

We use the prayers called "Mary Our Model Public: Prayer in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help"

Originally parishes celebrated a perpetual novena in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Novena means nine. In the Acts of the Apostles the Apostles prayed nine days with the Blessed Mother in the upper room between the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  Praying for nine days or weeks in a row, called a Novena, is a special act of devotion asking for some special help or favor. Each week the prayers would be offered and anyone in need would attend nine weeks in a row. Since many of the same people attended each week, the novena prayers were updated with the more general prayers we use.

Mary Our Model Public Prayer in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Opening Hymn (Stand)

PRIEST: Let us kneel as we gather together to honor our Mother and our Perpetual Help. We recall how she helped others. Her whole life was a lesson in love.

ALL: Mother of Perpetual Help, today we face so many difficulties. Your picture tells us so much about you. It reminds us to reach out and help those in need. Help us understand that our lives belong to others as much as they belong to us. Mary, model of Christian love, we know we cannot heal every ill or solve every problem. But with God's grace, we intend to do what we can. May we be true witnesses to the world that love for another really matters. May our daily actions proclaim how fully our lives are modeled after yours, Mother of Perpetual Help.

PRIEST: Mary, you were a woman of steadfast faith. Your faith in Jesus never wavered. Model of all believers, pray to the Holy Spirit for us. Help us not only to accept all your Son teaches us but to put that teaching into practice.

ALL: Mother of Perpetual Help, as a child, Jesus ran to you for comfort and reassurance. You did not see him as only a frail child. Moved by the Holy Spirit, you accepted Jesus as the Son of the Most High, the long-awaited Messiah. Following your example of faith, help us recognize Jesus in those we meet, especially the poor and the lonely, the sick and the elderly. Keep us always mindful, dear Mother, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to your loving Son. May his words lie in our hearts and influence our lives and the lives of those we meet.

PRIEST: Let us pray to be open to God's Word.

ALL: Mary, woman of faith, you pondered and treasured the meaning of God's words and actions in your life. You generously responded to his Word in faith. As we listen to God's Word help us be attentive to his message. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our understanding, and give us the courage to put these words into practice.

(If homily follows, all should be seated.)

PRIEST: Let us stand as we present our petitions. Grant wisdom and guidance to our Holy Father, Pope ..., our Bishop ..., our priests, and all the leaders of our nation, state, and community.

ALL: May your Mother intercede for us, Lord.

PRIEST: Grant peace and unity throughout the world, especially in our homes and families.

ALL: May your Mother intercede for us, Lord.

PRIEST: Grant that young people respond generously to the call of the Holy Spirit in deepening their faith and choosing their vocation in life.

ALL: May your Mother intercede for us, Lord.

PRIEST: Grant us continued health of mind and body, and help the sick, especially ..., to regain their health according to your holy will.

ALL: May your Mother intercede for us, Lord.

PRIEST: Grant eternal rest to all our deceased, especially ..., and to the souls of all the faithful departed.

ALL: May your Mother intercede for us, Lord.

PRIEST: Let us pause now to silently present our own personal petitions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

PRIEST: Let us kneel as we continue our prayers:

ALL: Mary, humble handmaid of the Lord, we need your example today to discover God's will in our lives. Your always gave God the first place in your life. Just as you pondered his Word in your heart, help each of us to seek his plan in all that we do. Give us the conviction that nothing is more important than doing the will of our heavenly Father. May we spend each moment in loving and pleasing him. Help us follow your example in proclaiming, I am the servant of the Lord. I will what God wills, when he wills it, as he wills it, because he wills it.

PRIEST: Mother of Perpetual Help, your picture reminds us that we are to carry our cross as Jesus did. With courage, he endured injustice, abandonment and betrayal, pain and suffering, even a criminal's death.

ALL: Mary, we turn to you as our model in suffering and courage. you shared in your Son's suffering and death. Now you share in his Resurrection. We, too, share in the Cross of Christ, and someday, like you, we will share fully in his Resurrection. Help us be patient in our suffering, and to trust in the loving care of our Father in heaven. May those suffering sickness in mind or body experience your Son's healing power. Help us follow his example, and through him, with him, and in him, commend ourselves to the care of our heavenly Father.

PRIEST: Let us ask Mary to watch over all families.

ALL: Mother of Perpetual Help, bless our families with your tender, motherly love. May the sacrament of marriage bring husbands and wives ever closer together that they may always be faithful, and love each other as Christ loves us. Help all mothers and fathers love and cherish the children God has entrusted to them. May they always be models of a truly Christian life. Help all children, that they may love and respect their parents. Inspire all people to value Christian marriage and family life. Give us a sense of responsibility that we may do our part in making our homes havens of love and peace. Mary, our model, help every family grow daily in genuine love for God and neighbor so that justice and peace may flourish everywhere in the human family.

(The following Act of Consecration is to be said the first week of the month.)

PRIEST: Let us renew our Act of Consecration.

ALL: United with the members of your confraternity here and throughout the world, we consecrate ourselves to your service. We promise to renew this dedication once a month and frequently to receive the sacraments. We beg you to obtain for us the grace to imitate your great servant, St. Alphonsus, in his love for you and your Son.

PRIEST: From the first moment of her existence, the Holy Spirit filled Mary with his love. By his power, she became the Virgin-Mother of God. Through the same Holy Spirit, she became the perfect wife, the perfect mother. Let us imitate her generosity, her openness to the Holy Spirit, and say,

ALL: Come, Holy Spirit. Fill our hearts with your joy and your peace, with your power and your love, with your constant Presence within us.

PRIEST: Receive the Holy Spirit. May he be with you to strengthen you, above you to protect you, before you to lead you, behind you to encourage you, within you to possess you totally. Through the prayers of our holy patron, St. Alphonsus, through the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, through the Merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar, may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain forever.

ALL: Amen.


Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!