(Teachers: See patron saint questions at end of this post. Click on “Read more.”) In our church a painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is in a front niche usually where her statue stands. It is an icon, symbolic art regarded as a door to the sacred. Icons are an acquired taste. Appreciation for them can develop much as an appreciation for spinach. We are encouraged to update to the modern world. The title Perpetual Help is somewhat off-putting. We might rename this representation of Mary “The 911 Woman.”
The eyes of Mary look directly at us, inviting us to imitate her son. The child Jesus looks at the angel who is carrying the cross. A touching feature of the painting is Jesus’ dangling shoe. It’s as though in contemplating his frightening future, he has run so quickly to the shelter of his mother’s arms that he loses his shoe. His hands are wrapped trustingly around her thumb. She holds him closely.
Recently I saw a priest being interviewed. When he was asked what Mary meant to him, his first response was, “She is my mother.” Mary is mother to everyone. Just as she is mother of Jesus, she is mother of his mystical body, us. In this month of October and the year of faith, we might renew our understanding of Mary’s role in our lives. Like her son, we might run to her in times of trouble. Besides being a powerful intercessor, Mary loves us very much.
The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is from at least the 15th century. Certain artists have been painting modern icons. You can view more Marian icons by searching for William McNichols, S.J., Michael O’Neill McGrath, O.S.F.S., and Robert Lentz, OFM, on the Internet.
What particular image of Mary speaks to you?
Who is the patron saint of
Chocolate Milk Drinkers (John Bosco)
Wimps (Francis of Assisi
Bald People (Hedwig)
Necklace Makers (Bede)
Weight Watchers (Josephat)
Boaters (Joan of Arc)
Ballroom Dancers (Catherine of Aragon)
Candy Makers (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)
Causeway Users (Bridget)
Sweater Wearers (Casimir)
Pool Players (Juie Billiart)
Travel Agent ( Martin of Tours
Macho Police (Prokop)
Shoppers (Francis De Sales)
RTA Garage Men (Barnabas)
Lost Boys (Ladislaus)
Mortgage Payers (Bernadette)
Lawyers (Our Lady of Good Counsel)