For many centuries throughout the world, this picture has been revered as an icon of hope and inspiration.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help – The original picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a product of Byzantine art. It is known to be at least five hundred years old in its present form. Painted in tempera on hard nut wood and only 17 by 21 inches, the picture may date back another 1,000 years to the ancient Madonna’s of Constantinople. Some church legends even date the picture to the first century and the hand and brush of St. Luke the Evangelist.
It is only in the past 125 years that devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help has increased dramatically. In 1866, Pope Pius IX entrusted the miraculous icon to the Redemptorists and told them to “Make Her Known Throughout the World
As they have crossed the globe bringing the Good News of Salvation, Redemptorist priests and brothers have also erected churches and shrines to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. They have encouraged people to gather each week to pray the novena prayers and then to pray daily in their homes to Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Countless miracles, healings, and conversions are attributed to Mary by those who pray to her as Our Mother of Perpetual Help. There’s even a bit of the miraculous in the way the Redemptorists received the picture in the first place.
Historical records indicate that around the year 1490, the picture was located in St. Matthew’s Church in Rome. Although it was a relatively small church located on the Via Merulana between the great Roman basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, people came from miles around to pray before the picture because of the many miracles attributed to this sacred icon.
For three hundred years the picture hung over the main altar in the church of St. Matthew the Apostle and the miracles continued to occur. In 1798, the picture was taken into hiding by the monks who fled the city of Rome to avoid being captured by Napoleon’s invading armies. The picture resurfaced some years later in an Augustinian monastery chapel.
Meanwhile the Redemptorists had built the new church of San Alfonso near the site of St. Matthew’s which had been destroyed by Napoleon’s invasion force. In time the Redemptorists learned about the miraculous picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that had been enshrined on that site for several centuries. They requested that the picture be placed there once again.
The Holy Father Pope Pius IX agreed and on April 26, 1866, the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was placed above the high altar in the Church of San Alfonso. To this day, the miraculous picture is there for all to see.
Millions of copies of the picture can be seen around the world in churches and homes. Each week hundreds of thousands of people gather to pray the novena prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help while in their homes each day millions of people invoke the assistance of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.