Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Our Lady of Perpetual Succour)
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Succour) is one of the most famous titles of Our Blessed Mother and associated with a beautiful Byzantine icon associated with the apparition which was entitled "Virgin Theotokos of the Passion" in reference to the description of the image. The icon originated from the Keras Kardiotissas Monastery and now permanantly enshrined in the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome.
On 23 June 1867, Pope Pius IX granted this image Canonical Coronation along with its present title. The Redemptorists were entrusted by the Holy See to protect and propagate this devotion and are responsible under Our Lady's guidance of making this image well known throughout the world.
Key Notes about the Image
The Greek inscriptions read MP-ΘΥ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ, Mother of God), ΟΑΜ (Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ, Michael the Archangel), ΟΑΓ (Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Γαβριήλ, Gabriel the Archangel) and IC-XC (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Jesus Christ), respectively.
- The Blessed Virgin Mary wears a dress of dark red under her blue veil. In Byzantine iconography, red is the color of the empress, the Queen.
- The subject shows Mary looking towards the faithful, while pointing at her son, Jesus Christ who from legend ran into the arms of His Mother frightened by the the instruments of His Passion presented to him by Angels, losing a shoe in the process.
- The left side is Saint Michael the Archangel — carrying the lance and the sponge of the Crucifixion.
- On the right side is Saint Gabriel the Archangel carrying a 3-bar cross and nails.
- The Virgin Mary has a star on her head signifying her role as Star of the Sea while the cross on the side has been claimed as referring to the Greek monastery which produced the icon.