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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help


I have cultivated a devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or has it been cultivated in me by Our Lady herself?), and today, I made a mini-pilgrimage to a local shrine. I brought many intentions with me, including those of fellow bloggers, so I pray you all receive the blessings and consolations requested through Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Many of you are likely unfamiliar with this icon, and truly, the icon itself deserves a post of its own, as so much is written into every line, every color, every diagonal and expression. For now, though, simply gaze at this image and allow it to enter your soul, become familiar with it, thus when I post further information about the symbolism, you will have a greater understanding.

The original iconographer is unknown; by legend dating from the 16th Century, it was found in Crete by a merchant who took the icon but gave it away on his deathbed to a Roman friend. Years later Our Lady appeared to his daughter, identifying herself as "Holy Mary of Perpetual Help", indicating that the icon should be placed in the Church of St. Matthew the Apostle.

I will not go into depth as to the other history of the icon, other than to say that, according to "Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Icon, Favors and Shrines," in 1865, Redemptorist Superior General, Father Nicholas Mauron, petetioned Pope Pius IX to grant the icon to them to be placed in the new Church of the Holy Redeemer, in their care. He granted this request, directing them in his own handwriting, to "Make her known throughout the world!" (p. 14)

At that time in history, the Redemptorists were set spread to all corners of the globe, thus the Pope's directive, and to this day, the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help remains their responsibility. The icon and devotions have indeed been spread throughout the world as that mission was successfully carried out by the Redemptorists.

A friend recently revealed to me that at her parish, St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Park, MN, as they are a Redemptorist parish, they have a shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Before she said something, I'd had no idea. St. Alphonsus is only about 15 minutes away from me, maybe less, as I attend a parish in a neighboring city. I wondered why I didn't know a shrine was so close by?

I went online and found the parish's website, but no mention of the shrine. No mention of devotion to OLPH except for a Tuesday morning devotion after Mass. Her icon is in the upper left corner of the web pages, but other than that, it's a bland site with everyday information on the parish itself, what one would expect of an average parish website. Yesterday I called the parish, KNOWING I had to go there to visit the shrine. They explained that the icon is in the main church, which is apparently locked after the Masses. She explained that there is access through the parish office at other times, however. I thanked her and made plans to visit during a time in which I could enter quietly without having to go through the parish office.

I was looking for an unobtrusive visit to Our Lady of Perpetual Help; I did not want to announce my presence to anyone but God and of course anyone else who might be present and have the same desire for quiet, prayerful solitude in contemplation of this image.

This morning I got up earlier than I'd prefer and arrived at St. Alphonsus during the post-Mass rosary. There was only about seven people present, which was surprising to me as my own parish typically has droves of people remaining after daily and Saturday morning Masses to pray the rosary. As I've stated before, I struggle with the rosary, I don't like saying it with a group as I get more distracted than ever when attempting to do so, and so I thanked God for this small group's devotion.

St. Alphonsus is a very modern-styled church, modeled after a thrust-stage theater, an all-too-common design these days. The tabernacle is front and center on the altar, I realized, and did have a red candle lit, which I had not initially seen.

Although the church is quite ugly in appearance, (I'm not a fan of modern church architecture - it emphasizes the people and de-emphasizes God) it does have a few spots of great beauty, that being an alcove housing the baptismal font, a large suspended crucifix, a prie-dieu with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and another prie-dieu with an image of Divine Mercy. Off to the far right side of the sanctuary is the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual help, surrounded by large vigil candles in blue and red, flowers, and about five prie-dieus in a half-circle around it.

I quietly walked around the small rosary group, again thanking God for their devotion, and knelt in front of the image. I actually saw a few things today I had not previously seen in the icon, and something else, too, in her expression.

Look at the icon: see the eyes, see the expression. At first the expression may seem bland, as it did to me when I first saw this image. Yet the more I look at it, the more I see in the total context and theological truth of it. I've been struck again and again at the communication in her eyes; they are wise, consoling, sorrowful, resigned, loving, tranquil...all that, at once. I have this icon on my wall at home and gaze upon it and pass by it frequently. I have actually seen reproach in her eyes!

But today, as I knelt there before her, she seemed to be smiling, her eyes had a loving gaze, if sorrowful and wise and consoling, but there was a joy I had not noticed before. I had not seen the "smile" before this and I was actually surprised.

I did not light a candle today, but I will be back with one. I looked around for a box for donations, for candles to light, and it seems that one either needs to request a candle from the parish office or bring one's own. As these are large novena candles, I can understand why they are not immediately available as they are far more costly than small vigil lights, not something to have on the "honor system". In the prie-dieu there is an alcove with a couple fliers; one is a little prayer card to Our Lady for vocations to the Redemptorists, and another is a prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

I would have thought that the shrine would also have something like a brochure or a sign explaining the history and devotion to Our Lady through this icon, but there was nothing. Finally I did find a small placque behind the candles, and as the candle holders are fixed in place, I was not able to read what it said. It seemed to indicate that candles were available in the parish office, but it seemed there was more on the sign that could not be read. I did observe a sign pointing to the parish office, but as I was in a pensive mood, I chose not to visit the office today. Perhaps next time, or I would bring my own candle to light.

I would encourage local Catholics to visit this shrine and do your own part to help renew devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In my opinion and through what I saw today, St. Alphonsus is not doing enough; they are not fulfilling their directive to make her known. Yes, they have placed the icon in a shrine in the church, but that's not "making her known" ~ not outside the parish, anyway. Had my friend not told me about the presence of this shrine, I would not have known about it. I spoke to a priest I know today, and he didn't know about it, either. I'm sure if I polled many faithful Catholics, they wouldn't have any idea.

The website at St. Alphonsus has an email for comments and suggestions, so I will be writing to suggest they do a better job of promoting devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Her feast day is June 27, and according to the bulletin, St. Alphonsus will be doing something special on that day.

If you are local, consider making your own pilgrimage to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, bring a large novena candle insert (they can be purchased at Catholic stores and gift shops or buy one at St. Alphonsus, and bring your intentions. This is a miraculous image, and has been so throughout history. Perhaps contained between her hands and the hands of the child Jesus, your own miracle is hidden, waiting only for your presence and your heartfelt request.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pray for us!



Source for posted info:

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, The Icon, Favors, and Shrines, prepared by a team of Redemptorist Missionaries in Rome, Ligouri Publications, 2002.

For more information:

www.cssr.com

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just curious. I live in San Antonio now but I used to live in Brooklyn Center many years ago. There were two Redemptorist churches in the area then. St. Gerard's in Brooklyn Park and, few miles away, St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center. You mention you were at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Park. Could you have been at St. Gerard's? I Lived there 20 years ago, so things have changed I'm sure. So maybe Brooklyn Center in now Brooklyn Park.
If you are interested in OLPH go on over to www.cssr.com and you'll find enough of OLPH to keep you busy all night.
Ron

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to make another comment. You state that you feel the Redemptorists haven't done their job of makeing OLPH known. I beg to differ. I think they have done an outstanding job. There are books, websites, movies about OLPH made by Redemptoristis. Not to mention all of the chruches named in her honor all over the word. There is a radio station named in her honor at http://www.radiomaria.ph/Perpetual%20Help.htm
There are four pages of publications, films, books etc on o
OLPH at
http://www.liguori.org/showproducts.cfm?FullCat=542
which is the Redemptorist Publishing House in Missouri.
Ron (again)

Adoro te Devote said...

Ron ~ Thanks for commenting. I'm pretty sure I was at St. Alphonsus because that's the website I went to for the address, and that's what the sign said in front of the church, and the top of the church matched the photo on the web page.

The Redemptorists as a whole have done a good job...but I was speaking in the context of St. Alphonsus. They have not done anything to actually spead this devotion, other than provide a shrine with no information.

And thanks for the link...I'll likely check it out tomorrow.

God bless!

Seminarian Matthew said...

At my parish, immediately after the morning Mass on Tuesday, the priest and all present pray a special devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It is a monthly devotion renewing our devotion to her, but everyone prays to every week anyway.

Seminarian Matthew said...

Also, could you please add my to your link's list. I didn't see my blog's url on the list.

mgibson said...

Adoro - FYI, St. Agnes parish (of course) offers the weekly novena devotion to OLPH, on Tuesday evenings at 7:30pm, with Confessions afterwards. I believe (?) they do it in the context of Adoration as well, though I'm not sure (and I've never actually gone myself... shame on me) Info on the devotion can be found at this site.

Of note is this quote from that page:

"Devotion to this wonder-working icon spread rapidly to the United States. IN 1870, when the Redemptorists were asked to establish a mission church in Roxbury, not far from Boston, they dedicated their small church to the Mother of Perpetual Help. They received from Rome the first copy of the portrait, which had been touched to the original. Since then more than 2,300 copies that had been similarly touched to the original have been sent to other houses of the Order.

The United States also takes credit for inaugurating the Tuesday night devotions to the Mother of Perpetual Help. Devotions that first took place at St. Alphonsus (Rock) Church in St. Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday nights, were quickly adopted by churches of the Order and by other churches, and took the form of a perpetual novena, a practice that is now observed worldwide."


So that's why the devotion is on Tuesday nights here in the USA. I also wonder if the image at St. Alphonsus was touched to the original as this site claims some were?

I too have a deep devotion to OLPH, after "stumbling" into the original due entirely to the guiding hand of our Lady on my first trip to Rome back in 2003 (a story I need to tell you sometime!) - it is indeed a beautiful devotion and I wish every church would have an image up for veneration (or at least, that the local Redemptorists would get their act together)!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I have attended the Tuesday OLPH Novena at St. Agnes on Tuesdays. It's proceeded by a Rosary that starts around 7:00 (the bulletin says 7:15 but they usually start before that). Benediction is about 7:30. The Novena follows that. The Litany of the Sacred Heart follows that. After, that the faithful process to the Altar rail to be blessed. After everyone is blessed, people may bring items up to the Rail to be blessed. After that they have Confessions. It's a lovely evening. I try to go at least once/month.

St. John's on the East Side has the Novena to OLPH after the 8:00 a.m. Mass on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

There used to be Tuesday devotions at Sr. Al's and St. Gerard's when I lived in Minneapolis. But as I mentioned about that was 20 years ago. Perhaps they have been discontinued.
I correspond with a Redemptorist in the Minneapolis area. I'll drop him a line and let him know of your concerns.
Perhaps your blog will inspire a resurgence of the OLPH devotions in Minneapolis!!!
Ron, in San Antonio (again)

anawim said...

Dear Adoro,
I am a priest stationed at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center. I am the same priest who celebrated the 8:00 a.m. Mass this morning. There were 200 people at that Mass. Perhaps 7 stayed to pray the rosary. Some do stay each day yes. You came as a visitor for the first time and without taking the time to talk to me (I was around for half an hour after Mass) you make generalizations and insults toward the Redemptorists, our parish , our website (which is in the process of being redone), our parish church, and our parishioners. Just ask our parishioners if devotion to Our Lady is being promoted in our parish and in more than 300 parishes in Minnesota (via the Redemptorists). Take the time, I urge you, rather to judge with a better than thou attitude my friend. OH and by the way, the vigil candles cost $2.00 apiece. You get them either in the sacristy or the front office, and we make no profit. And the sign is clearly not hidden that directs you to the sacristy. Also there are plenty of holy cards that I printed myself with the history of OLPH all around the church. Don't gossip in such an ugly way in blogs, be informed instead, ask and learn the facts.

anawim said...

I forgot to mention a couple more facts. The year was 1866, not 1865, and the church is St. Alphonsus in Rome, not Holy Redeemer. The Redemptorists did not petition to receive the icon. It was by the grace of God that series of happy events brought her to us. Read the story, it is beautiful.

anawim said...

OK while I am on a roll I will add one last thing, regarding perpetual novena prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We pray them after the 8:30 am Mass on Tuesdays. I know of many other parishes that also have the novena prayers in the Minneapolis area. The Pope's directive to us to make her known throughout the world was realized by the Redemptorists; an unknown icon is now known on every continent. Be more informed. On the feast on June 27 we will hold a Memorial Mass for recently deceased Redemptorist Missionary Fr. David Shannon,great promoter of our lady for 60 years. He lived at St. Alphonsus since 1987. Come join in the celebration. That is how we honor Our Lady, by honoring those who love her, including her Son, not by gossiping in blogs. Amen.

Terry Nelson said...

Adoro, The Church of the Assumption in downtown St. Paul also has the perpetual novena prayers every Tuesday after the Noon Mass, they also have a beautiful shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

uncle jim said...

a while back i mentioned a shrine to our lady in carey, ohio.
i remembered it as a shrine to our lady of perpetual help.
i was wrong.
it is a shrine to our lady of consolation.

web site is
http://www.olcshrine.com/

check it out and hit the site's link buttons on the left for all particulars.

The Redemptorists said...

Minnesota is a long way from Rome, but you shouldn't be surprised that this discussion has come to our attention!

Please visit www.cssr.com and click on the menu link for Our Mother of Perpetual Help. You will find a wealth of information and a virtual tour of the Shrine Church of the original miraculous icon.

Currently, our Church of St. Alfonso (also dedicated to Our Most Holy Redeemer) in Rome is in the midst of conducting a nine day novena in preparation for the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help next Sunday, which will culminate in an outdoor procession in the Roman neighborhood of the Esquiline around St. Mary Major Basilica.

Weekly, we currently have devotions in Italian, English, Spanish and Polish.

The Redemptorists
Rome, Italy

Adoro te Devote said...

anawim ~ I'll respond to your comments first as they are the most urgent. Thank you for your comments and the information. The brief history I provided I got from a book published by Ligouri Publications, prepared by "a team of Redemptorist Missionaries". Yes, the icon was granted in 1866, however, according to this book, a letter was sent to the Pope in 1865. I'll add a citation.

I'm sorry if I offended you, as I did not mean to do so, however I am making a point; why should someone HAVE to seek someone out to ask questions, when it would be so easy for a little brochure or placque on the devotion to be readily available? I've had a devotion to OLPH for a long time now (I have the icon in my home in a very special place), and I do not see it being promoted OUTSIDE of St. Alphonsus. As I stated in my post, I didn't know the icon was there, and neither do other people I know....and St. Alphonsus is only about 15 minutes away!

Additionally, what I have done here is not "gossip" but provide my observations and opinions on the basis of yes, a visitor. A visitor who would have come long before this had I known the shrine is there.

You may be pleased to know that I spoke highly of the shrine today to some friends and they will be coming soon to St. Alphonsus to visit the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have no doubt that this is being promoted within the parish, but my point is that the promotion is going no further.

I re-read my post and it seems you may have misunderstood my comments to be about the Redemptorists in general. That is so far from the truth; I recognize how far they as a group have spead the devotion. I will edit to be more clear in that my own complaint (which can be so easily remedied) is that St. Alphonsus, a Redemptorist parish, has not publicized this icon and devotion enough. If I am an attendee at one of the local parishes, wouldn't it stand to reason that at least we who are so local to you would know of the shrine?

So, since I have your ear, (if you come back), please place some educational information on the website during your rebuild of it about this devotion. I would be thrilled to provide a link and promote any devotions that are upcoming.

Father, I'm afraid you've also made an unjust judgement about me and about my intentions. Perhaps you also misinterpreted my comment about the Rosary group and my comments about them, and perhaps you have bristled at my description of the architecture. For the record, I also attend a more "modern styled" parish, and I'm not thrilled with the architecture there, either.

I would encourage you to actually read my entire post as I am asking people to go and visit the shrine; I'm very publicly sending people your way, and happy to do so. When taken in context, what I said here is a positive thing. I will edit to make my comments more clear as I did not mean to make a sweeping generlization about the Redemptorists.

If that was your main complaint (which it seems to be), I can easily ally those concerns. However, I will not change my observations coming from the viewpoint of a first time visitor who wanted only to quietly visit OLPH, and not have to run to the parish office to chat.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and I reiterate that I will be back now that I know the shrine is there.

God bless you and thank you for your comments.

Adoro te Devote said...

seminarian matthew ~ Yes, I will absolutely add your link. I actually added a few the other night, and yours is one destined for the side also! Sorry it hasn't been up previous to this as I have often visited your blog.

Cathy and Mgibson ~ I have been aware of OLPH devotions at St. Agnes - Cathy told me - but it's difficult for me to get there due to work hours/ responsibilities at home, etc. It's on my list, though, as most of the devotions, as cited, are Tuesday mornings and of course, I'm at work at that time.


Terry ~ I've never been to Assumption in downtown St. Paul. Isn't that the church that, in the last year or so, had bought a new statue at great sacrifice of the parishioners, only to have the statue damaged by vandals almost immediately? Or am I thinking of a different one? I'll look them on the archd. website for the address.

Of course, I'll spend most of my time in the shrine so close to my house! (St. Alphonsus)


The Redemptorists ~ Thanks for your comment! I will actually edit to include the link in this post.

Adoro te Devote said...

Mary ~ I'd love to hear the story as to where your devotion began!

Ron ~ Sorry I didn't respond...anything I can do to promote this image, I'm happy to do!

Actually did so last night. A couple friends of mine are familiar with the icon, didn't know of the shrine, but I can tell you this...that's EXACTLY where they need to go.

Kaureen said...

Adoro,

As I am the friend who brought this local shrine to your attention, I feel I should just add, in your defense, that until recently, I had not known about the Redemptorist's devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

I have been attending St. Al's in Brooklyn Center for 12 years. My chidren attend the school.

If I, who am a parishioner at St. Al's, faithfully attending Sunday mass with my family, did not know, you are justified in claiming that our particular parish, and myself by inclusion, is at fault for not making Our Lady's shrine known at the very least locally.

Dear Father (Anawim): I pray for each of our St. Al's priests, especially on Sunday's, that Truth will always guide you and give you courage. Adoro has not meant to insult. Perhaps it might be best to praise God that a faithful Catholic daughter is so very hungry for Truth and so very devoted to Our Lady, and then gently correct any misperceptions she may have.

To all who may read this: As the multi-language signs around our parish say - You are all WELCOME. Please do come visit us, and especially Our Lady of Perptual Help. Some of our priests are very good confessors. My children especially loved Fr. Shannon, who will be dearly missed.

God's blessings,
Kaureen

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you, Kaureen. You are a good friend, and I thank you so much for telling me about the shrine to OLPH.

Anonymous said...

For you OLPH fans out there in Adoro Te Land here's a news release from Denver Province of the Redemptorists

DENVER, CO, June 12, 2007 - On Sunday, June 24th, at 1:00 p.m. (CST), a candle will be lit at the Redemptorist parish, St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Chicago, as part of a special Mass to honor Our Mother of Perpetual Help on her feast day, June 27th. The Very Reverend Thomas D. Picton, C.Ss.R., provincial superior of the Denver Province, will preside and preach.

As part of their National Lighting Ceremony, the Denver Province Redemptorists are asking people around the country who have a special devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help to share in the spirit of the moment by either lighting their own candles at home at 1:00 p.m. on that Sunday or going to the Redemptorist ‘Home’ page (www.redemptorists-denver.org) and lighting the virtual candle to Our Mother online.

“This collective ‘Light of Love’ will shine hope on those who call upon Mary for help in their time of need,” said Fr. Picton. “It will honor her life and the way she lived it according to God’s holy will. We’re asking everyone to please share in this special devotion to her, on her feast day, as a collective sign of our love for her.”

In 1866, Pope Pius IX gave the Redemptorists the responsibility of “making her known throughout the world.” Her famous icon, adored by millions around the globe, is enshrined in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome, Italy. Pictures of the church and shrine are being featured in a special photo exhibit on the Redemptorist ‘Home’ page to help celebrate her feast day.

______________

The Redemptorists are a religious congregation of Catholic priests and brothers founded in Naples, Italy in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori, C.Ss.R., a doctor of the Church and one of her greatest saints. Redemptorists around the world celebrate this year the 275th anniversary of their founding.

Ron from San Antonio