The Icon Its Miraculous Power
The Redeemer, Mary and You
The Icon-The Journey of an Icon: Part I
The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was entrusted to The Redemptorists in 1866; its history extends far beyond the years it has been under Redemptorist care. Although there is no written record about the icon’s creation and its journey has been fragmented, we do know it had an interesting history even before it arrived in Rome. The form of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help originated in the East, and we have reliable information that it was written at the end of the fifteenth century. It was brought to Rome from the island of Crete by a merchant who was concerned that the beautiful image would be destroyed by the Turkish invasion of Crete. In an effort to preserve it, the merchant removed it from the island and fled to Rome. When the Redemptorists received the icon in 1866, a priest named Fr. Mariscal began to study its origins. He wrote to the apostolic vicar in Crete seeking
information about this miraculous icon. On February 25, 1899, the vicar responded that there was no oral or written information about the icon’s history. The style of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is known as the Virgin ofthe Passion, and some evidence suggests that the icon the Redemptorists have in their possession was written (painted) by Andrea Rizo, a monk from Crete.
Mary Satisfies the Hungry Heart
For several years after Vatican II, many people, including myself, viewed devotion to Mary as optional. While we maintained a quiet devotion to her, we presumed it was largely a private affair, like devotion to a particular patronsaint. At some point, though, I realized I was mistaken. A Marian spirituality is not an optional, private devotion. Rather, God wills this woman to be an integral part of our Christian spiritual lives. Why do I say this? There is hunger in our world today for the supernatural, a desire for God that is planted in every human heart. Our secular culture—with its technology, advanced communications, modern transportation, and marvels in medicine—has failed to satiate the hungry heart with God. In this secular desert, it is clear that souls thirst for God. I believe the quiet, maternal warmth of Mary is the easiest and most nonthreatening road we can travel back to spirituality. In this tawdry culture, Mary is utter beauty. In this spiritual wasteland, Mary is a spring of fresh water. In this flattened landscape that tries to shut out all vestiges of paradise, Mary is the “gate of heaven”
that opens us to God. Mary rejoices in her calling to open our hearts to Jesus. She points to him alone, never to herself. When our hearts are empty, she knows how to fill them.