Cardinal Vincent Nichols took possession of his titular church “Sant’Alfonso” in Rome on Thursday, 2nd October, 2014. The occasion was marked with a special concelebrated Solemn Mass with the Cardinal presiding; 6 bishops, the Superior General of the Congregation Fr. Michael Brehl and the Rector of the shrine Fr. Luciano Panellaconcelebrated. The ceremony began at 6 pm and the Shrine was packed with parishoners and specially invited guests.
In explaining the reasons why he was happy to have this particular church as his titular church, Cardinal Nicholas expressed his deepest feelings and devotion toward the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose Shrine is in the church. He said, “ the deepest link I feel with Sant’Alfonso is, of course, with the icon and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. This is an icon and a devotion which I have known since my youngest days. In our home, as in many homes, there was a copy of this icon which was a focus of prayer and reassurance. I now have a copy in my Office in Archbishop’s House and one newly installed in our Cathedral.”
In his homily during the Mass he explained why he has a such personal attachment to this particular icon. “Any time I glance at this icon I feel better. I feel secure. I am touched deeply. Sometimes I wonder why that it so. There is, I think, a real sense of depth in this beautiful image of Mary and her child Jesus. The icon draws us into that depth.”
He continued by saying that, “there is such a depth of compassion in the eyes of the Blessed Mother. She sees. She knows. She sees me. She knows me. She sees all the suffering of the world and gazes on it with such love and compassion. She sees my anxieties, my small sufferings, and helps me to see them in a true perspective. In the warmth of her compassion, I know I am not alone. I know I can bring my burden to her and, literally, leave it with her.”
At the end of the mass, the Cardinal greeted the faithful as the titular ‘parish priest’ and requested their prayerful support.