Month of the Rosary: Our Lady of Perpetual Help

About this article

This article is a reflection on the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

One of the most enduring Marian images is that of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This familiar painting appears to be a single frame taken from a larger action. The image has the child Jesus in the arms of Mary; however, there is the appearance that he ran to his mother. One foot is bare; the other foot has a sandal dangling from it and Jesus seems to be looking back toward a source of concern for him. It is a profoundly human image of the child Jesus.

Click here for a large version of the image.

This image and devotion have their origins in the most ancient of prayers seeking Mary's intercession - the Sub Tuum Praesidium. This Egyptian prayer from the 3rd century reads:

"We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin."

Curiously placed in the painting are two angels. One of these angles is holding a cross. As one studies the painting, one realizes that Jesus is looking at the cross. It is the cross that caused him to fly to his mother's side. As Jesus sees his future, he sees the cross. In light of this revelation he goes to his mother for solace and aid. We should, too.

All of us have our crosses. We don't have to go looking for a cross. Sick children, lost jobs, self-doubt, and all the other trials of life are crosses that can be unbearable without help. In facing his cross, Jesus found help - perpetual help. This same help is available to us. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.


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Published October 24, 2003.