Irish pilgimage of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

by | May 3, 2016 | A Question of Faith, Pilgrimage Archive, Prayer

Fr Michael Cusack talks to us about the pilgrimage of the Icon to the Cathedrals of Ireland celebrating 150 Years of Redemptorist Devotion.

This interview featured in Ep 30 of ‘A Question of Faith’ which was first broadcast on CatholicTV in the US on 2nd May 2016.

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Background Information

Blessed Pope Pius IX presented the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists for veneration in their newly-built Church of Sant’Alfonso, Rome in December 1865. It was in need of restoration so it was April 26th 1866 before it was solemnly installed there. The Holy Father gave the Redemptorists a mandate: they were to promote devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help throughout the world. Just over a year later, the first copy arrived in Ireland.

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has a long connection with Ireland. It had been in the care of Irish Augustinians since 1656, first in the Church of San Matteo and later in their Churches of Sant’Eusebio and Santa Maria in Posterula. It had been available for public veneration until 1819, when it was placed in the community oratory of the Augustinians. This broke with a tradition of public veneration going back to 1499 when the Icon was first venerated in San Matteo.

The Irish connection was restored in December 1867 when one of the first copies of the icon to be made was received in Mount St Alphonsus, then the only Redemptorist church in the country. It was from Limerick that devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help spread in time to new Redemptorist communities, first in Dundalk and then Belfast, as well as to churches and homes throughout Ireland. Irish Redemptorists setting out off from Limerick took copies of the icon with them to Australia and New Zealand (1882), to the Philippines (1906), to Sri Lanka (1939) and India (1940). Devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help was already well established in Teresina (Brazil) when Irish Redemptorists replaced their American brethren there in 1964. The spread of devotion from Limerick shows how faithfully Irish Redemptorists have taken the mandate of Blessed Pope Pius IX.