The Icon of Love
In 1866 Pope Pius IX entrusted the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists, asking them to “make her known throughout the world.” No other image offers us more possibility of meditation on the heart of the Gospel message than the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This icon is truly the Gospel in image form.
According to tradition, the ancient Byzantine icon of Our Mother (or Our Lady) of Perpetual Help was taken from a church in Crete where many miracles had occurred. The image remained in the private possession of a Roman merchant and his family until 1499 when it was publicly displayed in the Church of St. Matthew in Rome between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.
When St. Matthew’s was destroyed in 1789, the icon was rescued and hung in an obscure monastery chapel until the Redemptorists learned that the site of their new headquarters in Rome had once been the site of St. Matthew’s, the one-time home of a miraculous icon of Our Lady.
Praying With the Icon: The Prayer of Gazing
We approach the icon in a spirit of faith and humility. Only those of faith can uncover the hidden messages contained in the image before us.
The icon presents no written words to be read, but rather speaks to us through signs and symbols to be noticed. We use the method called the prayer of gazing to unpack the message contained within these symbols.
The whole image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is about Jesus Christ and Mary’s role as his Mother. When we look at the icon we are invited to read what is contained in the image. This reading of the icon can lead us into an experience of Mary that depends our devotion to her.
Using This Website
This website includes a guide to the signs and symbols of the icon, a brief history, and as well as an opportunity to pray a litany to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and to view devotional videos. We hope this website will be your guide to explore the best-known Marian icon in the world, and through that process, to grow closer to Jesus.