(Rome) The Public Veneration of the Icon of Mother of Perpetual Help began in the Church of St. Alphonsus, Rome, on the 26th of April, 1866. This year April 26, marks the 155th Anniversary of the public veneration of the Icon, which was handed over to the Redemptorists by Pope Pius IX. On this occasion, in the Shrine of Mother of Perpetual Help, Rome, the local Redemptorist community, together with the faithful, gathered at the Eucharist, presided over by Fr. Maikel Dalbem, C.Ss.R., at 6.30 pm. (Rome time). Before the Mass, at 5 pm. (Rome time), Marian songs were performed by the “Musica Creator” polyphonic choir.
The solemn installation of the miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the church of St Alphonsus on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, after half a century of neglect, is recorded by the chronicler in the following words:
On the evening of Thursday, 26 April 1866, a triumphal procession left the modest house of the Redemptorist Fathers. A happy coincidence: the feast of St. Cletus, pope and martyr, was being celebrated on this very day. His paternal house had been built in the first century in the enclosure of Villa Caserta [now the location of Redemptorist religious house in Rome], later converted into a chapel where the first Christians took refuge and honoured with the title of St Matthew. The church of St Alphonsus was later built on the ruins of this church.
Under a magnificent canopy, surrounded by numerous clergy, appeared the Holy Image, followed by a Bishop. Next were the Superiors General of various religious communities, and finally a multitude of faithful praying and singing the glories of Our Lady. The houses were decorated with flags, tapestries and drapes hanging down from the balconies; the ground was strewn with flowers.
Several healings were obtained as the miraculous Image passed by. Mary resumed possession of her Shrine and continued, never to cease, the course of her prodigies.
A solemn triduum began from this day. According to the testimony of an eyewitness, more than fifty thousand people came to prostrate themselves before the Holy Image during these three days of prayer.
See the articles about the Icon of Perpetual Help and devotion inspired by this Miraculous Image – Essays on Perpetual Help