(Rome: 28/06/2015) Yesterday, June 27, 2015, on the designated feast day, the Superior General of the Redemptorists, Fr. Michael Brehl, CSsR, solemnly made the Offical Proclamation of the Jubilee Year in front of the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
St Alphonsus Church in Rome has the tradition of celebrating the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on the Sunday nearest to June 27. Keeping to tradition, Sunday June 28, 2015 was the joyful celebration of the Feast of our Blessed Mother. His Eminence Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, presided at the meaningfully celebrated Eucharist. He spoke of how Mary’s perpetual help is experienced as immediate and perpetual. He said Alphonsus passionately loved Mary and this was evident in his famously popular book ‘The Glories of Mary’. He highlighted the contribution of Alphonsus to the Church. In the world of today, which has many questions and challenges, where people look for answers and help; in a world of injustice and oppression, how do we respond. The manner in which we help, must be at the service of these situations. He had a word for the Redemptorists saying that the Alphonsian heritage and tradition must be kept alive and transmitted as they respond to the challenges of the world. The offertory procession saw a representation of families that belong to the four different language groups that worship in the community – Italian, Polish, Filipino and Latin American.
After the solemn celebration of the Eucharist, the concelebrants and faithful participated in a procession with the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Some of the stalwart men from the different faith and language communities took turns to carry the flower bedecked icon in procession, on a wooden float. Several persons were present for this celebration. Many wait for this annual event as this is a date with Our Mother that cannot be missed. They came to profess their love for the Mother of Jesus, on whom they rely for “perpetual help”. As the biblical book of Revelation says: There were people from different ‘tribes and tongues, and peoples and nations’! The appeal of Our Mother of Perpetual Help transcends all boundaries of cultures and languages, denominations and even other faiths.
Since the procession with the icon went around the streets of the neighbourhood of the Church, the traffic had to be regulated by the traffic wardens and policemen. Thus the procession could proceed in a prayerful and serene manner. The people sang songs, prayed the rosary and heard passages of Scripture. In this way, they gave a prayerful testimony of their love and devotion to our Blessed Mother. Some tourists, passing the Church, were fascinated to see this display of affection. Other joined in the prayer and procession.
In 1867, one year after the picture was restored to solemn public veneration, when the icon was taken in a celebratory procession, our Blessed Mother was instrumental in a miracle cure of a child. In gratitude, a picture of the icon was installed on Via Merulana, 276. The procession today, stopped by this picture in memory of this event, as well as in gratitude for the many other miracles received through the intercession and help of Our Mother.
The procession concluded with the Blessing by the Superior General on the steps of the Church. Many shared stories of what Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help means to them…and it was as if they were saying….like the Beloved Disciple in the Gospel according to John 19, they took her to their home. The feast day celebrations ended, but the celebration of the Jubilee continues the whole year through until June 27, 2016.
Fr. Juventius Andrade, CSsR