The Possibility of the Miraculous
The icon is an efficacious sign of a real presence because it is a sacramental. Icons become a great means of holiness because of the ritual of blessing and the veneration of the image. This allows for the experience of the miraculous interventions and favors bestowed upon those who pray in the presence of an icon. It is through these experiences that the title miraculous was attached to this icon during the many years it was in Rome in the Church of St. Matthew down to the present day. Its official title is the Miraculous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
This icon is also one of intense spirituality because Mary draws our attention to the one she is holding. This icon is about the mystery of Christ in our midst. Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians, describes the definition of the word icon. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible…” (1:15–16).
The central message of the icon is of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. Her icon presence invites us into the mystery of the Incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is a journey into the depth of the mystery of our salvation in Christ. To those who approach this holy icon with faith and devotion, the possibility of the miraculous becomes open to them. Their devotion to the Mother of God is raised to a level beyond the ordinary experience of piety. It is in this spiritualized space of divine energy and devotion that the icon becomes the vehicle for God’s presence to the one in prayer before it.
The power of the miraculous contained in the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is established through the many ancient liturgical texts contained in the prayers for feasts and solemnities of the Mother of God that the Church celebrates.