PILGRIMAGE OF THE IMAGE OF OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
Words of introduction of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
Redemptoristine Convent, Saint Alphonsus Road, Drumcondra , Dublin 18th January 2016
“I wish to commend the Redemptorist Congregations here in Ireland for organizing this jubilee pilgrimage, which undoubtedly will have the support of people on all parts of this island. The partnership with all 26 cathedrals will ensure that the ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ 150th anniversary celebrations can be accessed by the large number of people who share in this devotion.
Despite a growing interest here in Ireland in icons, there is still a lack of widespread understanding of what an icon is in religious art. Icons are not photographs. They are not attempts by an artist to portray his or her personal ideas of how Jesus or the Blessed Virgin or a Saint may possibly have looked like. They are more like an impressionist portrait than a photograph: their task is to lead us in contemplation into the mystery of God.
Some of you may know Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth and will remember of the long corridors tapestried with large portraits of bishops, most of them of little or any artistic value and more significantly most of them highly unlikely to evoke prayerful contemplation. Indeed one could say that such a collection of paintings if anything gives a wrong impression of what the message of the Church is.
An icon is the opposite. It is something which speaks to the heart and evokes prayerful reflection. An icon is an attempt to draw us into something deeper, rather than define a static flash-photographic image. That is why the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has touched hearts all around the word
It is an attempt to draw us into the Mystery of a God who wishes to be close to us in all things and especially in those times when we are in distress or anxiety or troubled by a sense of helplessness. It is not an image which tries to cover up our powerlessness, an opiumof the people. It is an image which enables us to realise that in every moment of distress God is there with his compassion and care. In that way, the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Helpis an icon of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis: a reminder of the factthat compassion and care are icons of who God is and who we should become.
Mary is the one who was an icon in her own person, the one who pondered the many things about her son’s life and mission and learned faithfulness. Her tender care for us leads us to her son and to an understanding of our faith.
This pilgrimage of this icon will certainly bring help to many who are troubled and will hopefully lead those of us tempted to be closed in our own security to open our hearts more fully to those in need and to change our Church for it to be more fully a true icon of God’s mercy.”
- The Redemptorists in Ireland together with all 26 Roman Catholic Cathedrals will celebrate the 150th anniversary of veneration to the ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ – with individual events in the form of a pilgrimage running from Monday 4rd of April to the 15th of May 2016. (Programme, route map and a copy of ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ icon (painting) can be downloaded for use/publication from followtheicon.com)
- The original ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ icon was presented to the Redemptorists in Rome by Pope Pius IX in 1865, was solemnly installed in the Church of St Alphonsus Liguori in 1866 – and one of the first copies of the icon was received at the Redemptorists Mount St Alphonsus Monastery in Limerick in 1867.
- The 150th Jubilee Pilgrimage will begin in Limerick on the evening of April 4th. The Papal Nuncio, The Most Rev Archbishop Charles John Brown will bless a new outdoor ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ shrine in the grounds of Mount St Alphonsus. The statue was carved by Seamus Murphy for the Redemptorists in 1959 and is being relocated to Limerick as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The Pilgrim Icon of the ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’ will be taken in procession from the Redemptorists to St John’s Cathedral where Archbishop Brown will be the chief celebrant at a Jubilee Mass at 7.30 pm. This will be followed by an evening of prayer and an all-night vigil. The Pilgrim Icon will be taken to a Limerick centre for the homeless on the morning of April 5th, after which the Redemptorists will host a lunch for the homeless.