Devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a tradition deep in the Catholic faith throughout the world. Prayers of intercession are often asked of the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady has several names in various other languages such as Perpetuo Succursu, Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Soccoro and Mother of Perpetual Succour.
The icon seen below shows the Blessed Virgin protecting Jesus with her arms around him. Her solemn face isn’t looking directly at him, but at us. The two archangels Michael and Gabriel carry instruments of Christ’s crucifixion, a lance and sponge, a 3-bar cross and nails. The letters beside each figure identify their names using the Greek alphabet.
History of the Icon
The earliest documented history of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon is sometime in the year 1495. People in Crete venerated Our Lady because numerous prayer requests had been granted to those who were devoted to her. There has been speculation on how a merchant from the island was able to acquire the icon. Regardless of how he had been able to do so, he brought the painting to Rome and fell ill soon after. His dying request to a Roman friend was to have the painting hung in a church as soon as possible. The merchant’s friend didn’t fulfill his promise until the Virgin appeared in his dream. She instructed him to carry out the last will of his deceased friend. She appeared to him in two subsequent dreams to persuade him to do so. The Virgin also emerged in his young daughter’s dream, telling her that the Blessed Mother wants to be placed in a church to be shown for veneration. The image was enshrined at the Church of St. Matthew the Apostle in Rome on March 27, 1499. Faithful devotees flocked to the church for the next 300 years.
When French troops invaded Rome in 1798, they destroyed about 30 churches including the Church of St. Matthew. The Augustinian priests in charge of the church were able to hide the image. The painting was first placed in the Church of St. Eusebius and was transferred later to the Church of St. Mary of Posterula. It stayed there for almost 40 years but mostly neglected.
While the Redemptorists were building a church in Rome in 1853, they discovered that the site of the new church was close to the Church of St. Mary Posterula, where the painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help used to be. A young priest, who had been a former altar boy at St. Mary of Posterula, remembered the painting’s history and its location. The Redemptorists appealed to Pope Pius IX for the image to be returned to the Blessed Virgin’s chosen site. The painting was relocated to the Church of St. Alphonsus on April 26, 1866.
Prayers and Novenas to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as you loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and his mercy is from age to age on those who love Him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen.
Three Novena Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
First Novena Prayer
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 for ever.
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 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 that, in time of danger, I may neglect to call on thee, and thus lose my soul.
The 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.
(Recite 3 Hail Mary's)
Second Novena Prayer
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, fill 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.
(Recite 3 Hail Mary's)
Third Novena Prayer
O 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, 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, 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 perseverance, and the grace ever to have recourse to thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help.
(Recite 3 Hail Mary's)
Suggested links for further reading
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help Icon Has Colourful History
- Symbolism of the Icon of Perpetual Help
- The Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help