To celebrate the 150th anniversary of devotion to the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Lviv (Ukraine), under the leadership of the Redemptorists, an ecumenical group was established to deepen Marian devotion.
It was from this project that there emerged the idea of having an icon of Perpetual Help painted and to bring it to Rome to be blessed at the church where the original icon is venerated. From there the icon would begin a pilgrimage in the Ukraine which is undergoing a very painful time of conflict and war.
In the Orthodox churches, the icon of Perpetual Help is known as the Madonna of the Passion or the Virgin Dolorosa and so that why representatives of the Orthodox churches have willingly joined in this initiative.
In May the icon was painted by a priest in Greece and on June 23, after a Marian celebration in the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome, it was blessed by Father General Michael Brehl; present also were Father Alberto Eseverri, Consultor General and Father Arturo Martinez, Rector of the church and shrine.
Also present at the ecumenical Marian celebration where four priests of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (Ivan Levytskyy, Roman Kravshyk, Ivan Kuzmych, Taras Tsikalo) and two Orthodox priests (Roman Shach, Kyivan Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Stepan Tselen, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church). Mrs. Tetyana Izhevska, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Vatican and officials from the Embassy, together with the choir of seminarians of the Ukrainian Church of St. Sophia in Rome and the faithful from Ukraine also attended.
After the Mass, Father General encouraged to spread the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and to commemorate this celebration he put a dedication and a stamp on the back the icon.
The next day, during the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis blessed the icon and the intended mission of the pilgrimage with the icon to the churches of Ukraine.
Ivan Levytskyy, CSsR