Our Mother of Perpetual Help

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A Neighbourhood Pilgrimage

This afternoon I made my little pilgrimage to the Church of Sant'Alfonso on the Via Merulana, the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It was something I have wanted to do since the feast of Saint Mark, last Wednesday. Two little signs were given me this week, suggesting that Our Mother of Perpetual Help wanted me to pay her a visit in her sanctuary. The first was a namesday message from Father J. Scott Bailey, C.SS.R. "May Our Mother of Perpetual Help," he wrote, "hold you always in her heart." Thank you, Father Scott. The second was a post by my friend Terry Nelson at Abbey–Roads2.

Her Eyes

I left Santa Croce on foot at about 4:30 and twenty minutes later I was in the Church of Sant'Alfonso. A reproduction of the holy and wonder–working icon is exposed on a stand to the right of the altar for the veneration of the faithful. I kissed the icon and then, lifting my face from the icon, I was surprised by the gaze of the Blessed Virgin. She was looking right into my eyes. Her eyes seemed so lifelike, so full of tenderness and sorrow and sweetness and truth. I knelt in the first bench and prayed a decade of the rosary.

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Kneeling Before the Icon

As other pilgrims were going right into the sanctuary to kneel at the foot of the altar before the original icon, I followed suit. I entered the sanctuary and knelt next to another priest at the foot of the altar. There I presented all my intentions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. I didn't know until later in the evening that at that very moment my cousin Kevin Kirby in North Carolina was suffering a grave health crisis. Mother of Perpetual Help, help him in his hour of need and show him the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

I Want to Go Back

Many saints have visited this church and prayed before the miraculous icon; among them were Blessed Pius IX and Blessed Charles de Jésus. Before leaving the church and hurrying home to Vespers I was able to purchase a few postcard size reproductions of the miraculous icon. I am still pondering the mysterious gaze of the Mother of God. There was something indescribable in her eyes. I will return to Sant'Alfonso. Our Mother of Perpetual Help is present there in a unique way. Her eyes of mercy are turned toward us.

5 Comments

Blessed Charles wrote in his journal on Nov. 14, 1897:
"In this time of great pain, near Christmas, 1983, not finding where to hide myself, fearing to be defeated by the devil, I placed myself more completely in her arms; I took myself to the heart of the Mother of Perpetual Help, and I placed myself in her hands as her child, her property, her suppliant that she, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, would carry me as she carried you when you were an infant, not where I wish but where she wishes, for the greater glory of God, according to her will, she who reads in your heart. From this time I considered myself as yours, O Mother of Perpetual Help.
My joy is to think that at Rome, the first building into which i entered was the principal church dedicated to you my Mother, St. Mary Major, and the second was the church of the Redemptorists where your holy icon is exposed, O Mother of Perpetual Help."

In this icon he seems to have found his vocation to be "little" and to enter into the into the attitude of trust and surrender of the child in the icon. this icon for him, became 'Our Lady of the Spiritual Infancy' and set him on the path of spiritual childhood as an essential in his vocation.

Thank you very much, Patrick! What a beautiful text of Blessed Charles!

I'm happy you visited.

I grew up in a home where a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help hung on one wall and a picture of the Sacred Heart, complete with small red light, hung on another wall. This was the case of course in many, many homes at that time. My father (R.I.P.) who was not a T.V. watcher, sat on a chair directly beneath one picture and opposite the other. He was a good man, who throughout his long life placed himself and all his family under the watchful care of his 'friends' who never let him down. My mother and father looked forward to each coming June and attended the Solemn Novena faithfully. And my mother-now in her eighties-had the privilege of being in Clonard when Fr Matthew Meighan, an American Redemptorist first introduced the Novena to the Irish people. She still remembers leaving the church and meeting hundreds upon hundreds of others making their way in, securing a seat for the next session, such was its popularity.

Father, if you go there again, will you please pray for me and all those I promised to pray for as well?

And I agree...there's something about her eyes, so wise, so sorrowful, so docile...

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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