Mangaluru, May 5, 2017: According to details made available here, Dakshina Kannada (DK) and Udupi also referred to as Kanara are set to have a rare experience and honour starting May 5, Friday Today. On the occasion of the 150 years of the handing over of the Miraculous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists by Pope Pius IX in 1866 with the charge to “Make her known to the entire world” the Redemptorist fathers and brothers presented a few copies of the Miraculous Icon to our Holy Father, Pope Francis for blessing. One of these copies blessed by the Pope in Rome, will arrive in Mangaluru.
Mangaluru is part of the Redemptorist fathers and brothers arena of care as part of the Vice Province of Majella and in the Redemptorist Community at Nityadhar Niwas in Alangar. This copy of the Icon will also be on display at the ordinations to the priesthood of three young Redemptorists on the 8 th of May at Moodferar parish and then in different parishes in the Diocese of Mangalore until the 21 st May 2017.
This is an occasion to renew one’s knowledge of the history and story of the Icon of Mother of Perpetual Help, the theological and spiritual meaning of the Icon and to visit the Icon and pray before it and seek the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help for one’s personal and family life.
Local pilgrim programme of the Icon Our Mother of Perpetual Help in DK - May 6 to may 21, 2017:
Arrival on Friday, May 5, 2017. 6 th May, Saturday, 9.am Bishops’ house for blessing; will remain there till 3 pm.
6 th May, Saturday, 4 pm Valencia Church, Novena at 4.45pm and Mass, remains there till Sunday 7 th , 6pm
7 th -8 th May Ferar, St. Francis Xavier Church, during ordination of 3 Rdemptorist deacons.
9 th May Nakre, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Church;
10 th May Mt. Rosary Chapel, Alangar;
11 th May OLPS Church, Gantalkatte,
12 th May Holy Rosary Church, Alangar;
13 th - 14 th May Milagres Church, Mangalore;
15 th May Rosario Church, Mangalore;
16 th and 17 th May St. Lawrence Church, Bondel;
18 th May St. Francis Xavier Church, Saverapura, Belvai;
19 th May Redemptorist Fathers, Nithyadar; Nivas, Alangar;
20 th May Corpus Christi Church, Moodbidri;
21 st May OLPS Church, Nithyadar Nagar, Mangalore;
22 nd May Leaves for Porvorim, Goa.
The detailed history and meaning of this miraculous Icon is vast and the expalnation and awareness of this will be part of the pilgrimage programme in each of the specified places on the dates. Priests will be available for consultations and prayers. A visit can be memorable and prayerful.
Mother of Perpetual Help, Icon History:
The story of Mary’s presence in the apostolic life of the Missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. It all began in the 15 th cent. A merchant from the isle of Crete stole a miraculous icon from one of the churches of the island, and hid it among his wares and set out westward. The ship in which he was travelling survived a tempest at sea and he finally landed in Rome with his treasure, the icon. He soon fell seriously ill and on his death-bed confessed to his stealing of the icon and handed it over to a family from Rome with whom he was residing, with the request to hand the icon over to the church from which he had stolen the icon. But the family taken up by the beauty of the icon and its treasure value did not fulfil the request of the dying merchant.
But Our Blessed Mother intervened and appeared to the six year old daughter of the Roman family and presented herself under the title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, asking the girl to tell her parents to hand the icon over the priests of the nearby Church of St. Matthew. The parents were moved and heeding the request did hand over the icon of our Blessed Mother to the nearby Church which was situated between the two major basilicas of St. Mary Major’s and St. John Lateran. The date was 27 th March 1499. The icon was miraculous and soon its fame spread all over Rome and it was venerated for three hundred years in the Church of St. Matthew. From 1739 – 1798 the Church of St. Matthew came under the care of the Irish Augustinian monks who continued to propagate the devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help. However, in 1798 war raged in Rome and the monastery of the Augustinian monks and the Church of St. Mathew were destroyed. Some monks fled with the precious icon and took refuge in a small church along the river Tiber. But this Church was already dedicated to Our Blessed Mother and had a beautiful picture of Our Lady in it, so the monks kept the icon of OMPH in a small chapel and there it was forgotten.
Years passed and it seemed that the picture that had been saved from the war that destroyed the Church of St. Mathew’s was about to be lost in oblivion. However, a young altar boy named Michael Marchi, who used to frequent the Church of Our Blessed Mother and the monastery where the icon was became very friendly with one of the old monks, a Br. Augustine. This brother one day took the young boy to the place where the icon lay, in corner, without a lamp to honour it, in dust and cobwebs. The brother told the boy about the miraculous value of the icon and hoped that one day it would be restored to its original glory in the Church of St. Mathew. In 1853, Br. Augustine died, his dream of seeing the icon of OMPH restored not realised in his life- time.
In 1855, the Redemptorist Missionaries purchased the area where the Church of St. Mathew was, and built their home and began to construct a church to be dedicated to St. Alphonsus Liguori founder. In the same year, a young man entered the order to become a Redemptorist. He was the young altar boy Michael Marchi. Gradually the Redemptorists began to discover the history of the place where they built their home and the history of the church of St. Michael that once
stood on the same land. They also learnt about the miraculous icon of OMPH. The young altar boy, now a young Redemptorist priest was to certify the history and bring to light where the icon lay. The Redemptorists discovered where the icon lay, and so in 1865 the Redemptorist Superior General, Fr. Nicholas Mauron requested the Holy Father at the time, Pope Pius IX to grant that the icon of OMPH be given to care of the Redemptorists and be placed in the new Church now built on the same spot.
The following year, 1866, the Holy Father, Pope Pius IX, issued a decree granting permission for the icon to be handed over to the Redemptorists and asked the Superior General to “Make Her known throughout the world.” Two Redemptorists, one of whom was the young altar boy now a priest, went to the Church of the Augustinians to recover the icon and bring it to the Redemptorist Church. The icon was entrusted to a polish artist who restored and decorated the icon with a crown, and a necklace and on April 26, 1866 it was once again presented for public veneration in the Church of St. Alphonsus, via Merulana, and it lies till this day, in the same church on the main altar. As we look at the icon of OMPH, it is important to remember that it is an ICON, painted on wood by an anonymous artist, in the style of the Virgin of the Passion that represents the Christian mystery of Redemption.
Icon comes from the Greek word meaning ‘image’. Christians first used the word icon to describe Jesus who was the image of the invisible God. Then they used the word for all Christians who through baptism were formed in the image of Christ as icons of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore when we come to the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we come with this awareness, that the icon leads us to the mystery of redemption, of salvation, of God saving us. That is the mystery being represented in our icon. God saves us, redeems us. Prayer before this icon leads one towards an individual transformation, inner healing from sin,and towards reconstruction of spiritual beauty in humanity.
The Redemptorist fathers and brothers of the Vice Province of Majella, invite you to gaze into the icon again, look at it, contemplate it, and be drawn into the mystery of God’s love. The programme with dates and places are given above for your convenience.
(History as per Rev. Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R. Vice Provincial. Majella V.Province. Goa.)