FLOWER of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.
“A man was rushed to a New York City hospital unconscious and dying. The nurse saw the man was wearing a brown scapular of a Our Lady of Mount Carmel and called for the priest. As the prayers were being said for the dying, the man became conscious. ‘Father, I am not a Catholic.’ The man said. The priest asked why he was wearing the scapular. ‘I promised friends I would wear it and say one Hail Mary each day.’ The priest asked the man if he wanted to baptized. The man desired his whole life to become Catholic. He was baptized and received the Last Rites and died in peace.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help measures around 50 centimeters (25 inches) high. It is in the Byzantine style, painted on wood with a gold leaf background. The Virgin is there with Her divine Child; each of them has a golden halo. Two Angels, one on the right and the other on the left, present the instruments of the Passion to the Child Jesus who is frightened, whereas the Blessed Virgin looks at the pathetic scene with calm, resigned sorrow.
The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had long been venerated on the Isle of Crete. The inhabitants of that island, fleeing a Turkish invasion, took it with them to Rome. By the invocation of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the ship transporting Her holy image was saved from a terrible storm.
On March 27, 1499, the portrait of the Virgin of Perpetual Help was carried in triumph through the streets of Rome. Preceded by the clergy and followed by the people, it was placed over the main altar of St. Matthew’s church, near St. Mary Major. Thanks to the care of the Augustinian friars, the holy image became the object of a very popular devotion which God rewarded for several centuries with many miracles.
During the disturbances of the French Revolution (1789-1793), the French troops occupying Rome destroyed St. Matthew’s church. One of the friars serving in that sanctuary had the time to secretly remove the miraculous Madonna. He hid it so well that for sixty years, no one knew what had become of the famous painting.
God permitted a concourse of providential circumstances which led to rediscovery of the venerated image. In 1865, in order to return the holy picture to the same spot it had been prayed to before, Pius IX gave orders to have it taken to the Esquiline Hill, in St. Alphonsus Liguori’s church, built on the site of old St. Matthew’s. On April 26, 1866, the Redemptorists solemnly enthroned Our Lady of Perpetual Help in their chapel.
From that time on, thanks to the zeal of the sons of Saint Alphonsus and the countless miracles obtained in their pious sanctuary, devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help has had an extraordinary development. To acknowledge and perpetuate the remembrances of these precious favors, the Vatican Chapter crowned the holy image in great pomp on June 23, 1867.
In 1876, Pope Pius IX erected an Archconfraternity in St. Alphonsus’ church under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Today the Blessed Virgin is invoked by this name throughout the Western Church.
(Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, Mame: Tours, 1950, pp. 463-464 – Brothers of Christian Schools, 1932 ed., p. 483.)
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
Today is the day set aside by Mother Church to liturgically memorialize Mary’s appearances to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal in 1917. Here is an essay looking at why this title of Mary is important to us, “Our Lady of Fatima and Coincidences.”
Those who pray the rosary likely add this prayer following the Doxology: O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy. The prayer is given to us by the Virgin Mother indicates her maternal care for our eternal destiny. While optional, I don’t know many who refuse to pray this prayer. Sometimes those most in need of the Lord’s mercy is me.
A published editorial…
Much has been written concerning the six famous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a little town in Portugal between May 13 and October 13, 1917. Later it would be said, and rightly so, that everything She predicted there to the three little shepherds has been fulfilled point by point. The story is too long to tell in detail in a few words, and indeed it is not over yet.
Our Lady of Fatima was sent to warn the 20th century that humanity had not followed the path that had been indicated to it by her Son; humanity had not developed as God intended, and the time of the last and worst enemy was fast approaching. She said that if Her requests for prayer and penance were not heard, Communism would spread its errors all over the earth. She appealed to the Apostles of the Latter Times to come forth, those who lived in humility, poverty and contempt for the world, repeating what She had already said at La Salette, France, in greater detail in 1846.
During the final apparition on October 13th, She appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, accompanied by Saint Joseph and the divine Child. Through Lucy of Fatima, Mary had promised a miracle to convince doubters of the reality of Her presence and the Will of God She had conveyed by Her words, and She fulfilled that promise. On October 13, 1917, the great Miracle of the Sun occurred, witnessed by all who were present at Fatima, an international crowd of 70,000 spectators. The sun whirled about and seemed to be plunging down as it sent off multicolored rays; many cried out that it was the end of the world.
A large shrine was built at Fatima, and in the 1940’s more than a thousand miracles had already been duly confirmed there. The famous Secret of Fatima, part of which was disclosed by the Vatican to certain heads of State in 1963, still remains largely a secret for most of the people who have been waiting for it since 1960, the year that the Virgin said it was to be made public.
Magnificat magazine — special edition on Fatima. Editions Magnificat, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada