In this shorter, personal, novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help or Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we pay tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary in asking for her assistance. This picture of the Blessed Mother with her Divine Son has proved an instrument through which she has provided strength, comfort and even miracles to the faithful for hundreds of years!
A ‘novena’ implies that the prayer will be prayed nine times, usually on nine consecutive days, or on a set weekday for nine consecutive weeks. This is a sign of your sincerity in seeking an answer to prayer; it is not a magical formula. You may pray the prayer anywhere, anytime.
O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you.
In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.
But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help.
Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me this favour I confidently ask of you. [State your petition to Our Lady: ….]
(Then say three Hail Marys).
* * *
The Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
History and Meaning
First placed in the Church of San Matteo in Rome in 1499, the icon was thought to be lost after Napoleon’s armies sacked and destroyed that church in 1798. Fortunately, however, it was in the care of the Augustinian fathers until Pope Pius IX ordered that the icon be given to the Redemptorist order at the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome in 1866 for public viewing once again. Since then it has been copied and venerated in churches and homes all over the world.
Meaning of the Icon
Note in this picture how Jesus, while safely cradled in his mother’s arms, looks anxiously at St. Gabriel the Archangel, who holds the cross and nails for His Crucifixion. (St. Michael the Archangel, at left, holds the lance, spear, and the vessel of vinegar and gall for our Lord’s Passion as well.) The Blessed Mother looks at us solemnly, perhaps as if in contemplation of her beloved Son’s future Passion and death for our salvation!
Mary never replaces Jesus
Remember that when we pray this novena to our Lady of Perpetual Help, we are not choosing to worship her over her Divine Son. She is “our Mother in the order of grace,” according to a Vatican II document, and all the graces Mary gives us come directly from our Lord. She is always ready to intercede with Him on our behalf, but never for anything contrary to His wishes.
Approach Our Lady humbly
As long as we approach Our Lady as we approach Jesus, with humble and contrite hearts, we can count on her aid and guidance. Mary’s last spoken words in the Gospels concerned her Son when she said at the wedding feast at Cana “Do whatever he tells You” (John 2:5). If we persevere in our intentions to do Christ’s will for us, we are doing hers as well.
* * *