History of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively. It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of St. Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress. These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula.
The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dec., 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succour should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of St. Alphonsus. The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (23 June, 1867). He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and by a decree dated May, 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This favour later on was also granted to others. Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide, Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St. Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences. He was amongst the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity.
Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from St. Alphonsus’s church in Rome to every part of the world. At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Within the Octave of the Nativity
of St. John the Baptist
Missa “Gaudeamus omnes”
INTROITUS – Psalm 44: 2
Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrántes sub honóre beátæ Mariæ Vírginis Regínæ: de cujus solemnitáte gaudent Angeli, et collaudant Fílium Dei. Ps. 44. 2. Effundit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego carmen meum Regi. Gloria Patri.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary: at whose solemnity the angels rejoice and join in praising the Son of God Ps. 44: 2 My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King. Glory be.
Let us all rejoice…
Almighty and merciful God, Who hast given us a picture of Thy most blessed Mother to venerate under the special title of Perpetual Succor, mercifully grant us to be so fortified, among all the vicissitudes of this wayfaring life, by the protection of the same immaculate, ever virgin Mary, that we may deserve to attain the rewards of Thine everlasting redemption. Who livest and reignest.
Commemoration of the Feria – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
O God, Who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee in all things, and above all things, may obtain Thy promises which exceed all that we can desire. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for Octave of St. John the Baptist
O God, Who hast made this day honorable to us on account of the birth of blessed John, grant Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Ecclesiasticus 24: 23-31
As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odor, and my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits; for my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me shall not be confounded, and they that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
GRADUAL AND ALLELUIA
Thou art all lovely and sweet, O daughter of Sion, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army in battle array. V. (Judith 13: 22) The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee He hath brought to naught our enemies.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Luke 1: 28) Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – John 19: 25-27
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: “Woman, behold thy son.” After that, He saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.
OFFERTORY – Jeremiah 18: 24
Remember, O Virgin Mother, that thou speak good things for us in the sight of God, that He turn away His wrath from us.
By Thy clemency, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary, ever a virgin, may this oblation profit us unto eternal and also present well being and peace. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for the Feria – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Be appeased, O Lord, by our humble prayers, and favorably receive the offerings of Thy people: and that the prayers of none be vain, no one petition void, grant, that what we ask faithfully, we may obtain effectually. Through our Lord.
Octave St. John the Baptist
We heap Thine altars with gifts, O Lord, celebrating with fitting honour the nativity of him who heralded the coming of the Saviour, and pointed Him out when He had come, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son: Who liveth and reigneth.
PREFACE OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, on the Visitation of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say with lowly praise:
O Mary, ever Virgin, who because of thy great worth, God set up as Queen of the whole world, pray for our peace and salvation, for Thou hast brought forth Christ the Lord, the Savior of us all.
May the august intercession of Mary, Thy glorious Mother, ever-virgin, help us, O Lord, that those whom it hath heaped with benefits it may deliver from all peril and by her tender kindness, make to be of one mind. Who livest and reignest.
For the Feria – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
We have been filled, Lord, with Thy gifts: grant we beseech thee, that we may both be cleansed by their effects, and defended by their aid. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son.
Octave of the Nativity, St. John the Baptist
May Thy Church, O God, be joyful at the birth of blessed John the Baptist: through whom she knew the Author of her regeneration, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son: Who with Thee livest and reignest.