Our Mother of Perpetual Help replica icon coming to local parishes

| April 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Celebrating a milestone anniversary for the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help with the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center will host a recently commissioned replica May 7-17.

Redemptorist priest Father Patrick Keyes of St. Alphonsus said the religious order wishes to “spread devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and through Mary’s intercession, to bring people closer to Jesus.”

A replica icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will visit local parishes in May. TCS file photo

Visitors can pray with the icon at Redemptorist-run parish during the 10 days. The icon will also be on display at St. Austin in Minneapolis May 18, St. Stephen in Minneapolis May 19 and St. William in Fridley May 20-21.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help depicts Mary holding up the child Jesus surrounded by two angels on a gold background. The many symbols in the icon and the basic details of the image have been designed to help the viewer prayerfully reflect on the life of Mary.

Icons are “different than statues or pictures,” Father Keyes said. “Icons are meant to be ‘read’ — to read the story of the picture — that aspect of our faith that the iconographer wants to teach us through the icon.”

The original icon resides in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome. In the U.S., Redemptorists of the Denver Province commissioned an Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon for the 150th anniversary of the icon being in the order’s care. The icon has traveled around the country since 2016.

The icon’s origins are unknown; it was brought to Italy from Crete in 1495, and was reportedly already considered ancient at that time. The Redemptorists have cared for the icon since 1866 at Pope Pius IX’s request. He first prayed with the icon as a boy at St. Matthew in Rome, but it had gone missing for years following a Napoleonic raid in 1812. It was rediscovered at an Augustinian oratory in Rome, and the pope entrusted it to the Redemptorists.

“When the pope, Pope Pius IX, gave us [the Redemptorists] the icon, he said that we have the responsibility to make her known throughout the world,” Father Keyes said. “That’s part of what we’re hoping to do in Brooklyn Center is to make her better known to the people in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.”

Father Keyes said Our Mother of Perpetual Help is also considered an “icon of the Passion” because the two angels in the image flanking Mary and Jesus bear a cross and a spear with a sponge on it.

“Just as Mary was there at the crucifixion of Jesus … we can turn to Mary and ask that she be with us [and] accompany us when we’re suffering, like her son was suffering upon the cross,” Father Keyes said.

The Redemptorists have served the parish since its founding in 1959. Over the decades, the parish has drawn Hispanic, Vietnamese and African Catholics. While Our Mother of Perpetual Help devotions have been provided in English for years at St. Alphonsus, Father Keyes said they hope to do more in other languages “to try to reach out to some of the different communities that are present within our parish boundaries.”

“Most different nationalities have devotion to Mary under different titles, but we see Mary under the title of Perpetual Help as being more universal — that it’s something that can touch everyone regardless of what culture they’re a member of,” he said.

St. Alphonsus will host a multilingual rosary service with the icon 7 p.m. May 8. The parish also has a teaching on Mary 7 p.m. May 12, vespers and procession 6:30 p.m. May 13, a vigil for peace and justice 7 p.m. May 15 and family prayer service 7 p.m. May 16.

St. Austin will have a prayer service with the icon 7 p.m. May 18, as will St. Stephen 7 p.m. May 19. St. William will have the icon at all Masses May 20-21.

Father Keyes hopes non-believers will come to see the icon, too, since he believes it can serve as a powerful tool for evangelization.

“Just as she helped the wedding couple at Cana,” he said, “she’s ready to bring whatever our needs are to Jesus.”

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Category: Local News