Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help: Decades in Obscurity

Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

(The following is excerpted from Our Lady of Perpetual Help: The Icon, Favors and Shrines, published by the Redemptorist Missionaries)

"A young altar boy named Michael Marchi often visited the Church of Sancta Maria in Posterula [in Rome, where the icon was taken after the original church it was enshrined in, St. Matthew's, was destroyed by Napoleon's barbaric armies in 1798] and became friends with Brother Augustine [Orsetti, an Augustinian]. Much later, as Father Michael [after he became a Redemptorist as an adult], he would write
"This good brother used to tell me with a certain air of mystery and anxiety, especially during the years 1850 and 1851, these precise words: 'Make sure you know, my son, that the image of the Virgin of St. Matthew is upstairs in the chapel: don't ever forget it... do you understand? It is a miraculous picture.' At that time the brother was almost totally blind. What I can say about the venerable picture of the 'Virgin of St. Matthew,' also called 'Perpetual Help,' is that from my childhood until I entered the Congregation (of the Redemptorists) I had always seen above the altar of the house chapel of the Augustinian Fathers of the Irish Province at St. Mary in Posterula [...], there was no devotion to it, no decorations, not even a lamp to acknowledge its presence... it remained covered with dust and practically abandoned. Many were the times, when I served Mass there, that I would stare at it with great attention."
(Father Michael Marchi would tell his brother Redemptorists of the miraculous icon after they built the church of St. Alphonsus on the old site of St. Matthew's, which lies between the major basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The Redemptorists petitioned Blessed Pius IX for the Augustinians to grant them the icon so it could be venerated again at its old location. On April 26, 1866, the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was revealed again in the church of St. Alphonsus for public veneration, and remains there to this day.)