Our Lady of Perpetual Help
The Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro, or Our Lady of Perpetual Help is known to the Filipinos as the Ina ng Laging Saklolo was the title given to our Blessed Virgin Mary on the basis of its original image's description.
History of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
A merchant from Crete owned a replica of a wooden painting of Our Lady Of Perpetual Help which is believed to be owned by St. Luke. He took the picture with him to Rome, Italy. He stayed at his friend's house, where he displayed the picture, foretelling that it would be venerated all over the world one day. Before dying, he asked his friend to return the image to the church so that the people may view the image and honor it.
However, the family did not accord with his request. One day, a beautiful lady appeared to a child and asked that the image be placed in the Augustinian Church named St. Matthew. In 1499, the image was brought to the church by a procession. After Rome was plundered by the Napoleon's army, it was kept by an Augustinian priest in a private chapel called St. Matthew, where it was left unnoticed for 64 years.
When the Redemptorists came to Rome, they constructed a monastery and a church named St. Alphonsus, which they learned that it constructed upon the ruins of the original structure of St. Matthew church. They also learned about the forgotten image of Our Lady which was there. They sought the authorization of Pope Pius IX for its custody. The Redemptorists were assigned to intoduce and spread the devotion to Our Lady all over the world. The devotion to Our Lady spread to all parts of the world.
The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is holding the child Jesus into her protective arms as the Archangels Michael and Gabriel hold the articles of the passion, the cross and the nails. The original image was said to have been done originally by St. Luke.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Philippines
The Redemptorist priests brought the image in the Philippines in 1906, as part of their mission to spread the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The novena habit , however was made known by the American soldiers who were based in Iloilo who learned it from their own parishes in Boston, Massachusetts. It was adopted by St. Clement's Parish in Iloilo in 1948. The novena attracted many adherents. It was carried to Lipa City, Batangas by the Redemptorist Rector of Lipa, Fr. Gerard O' Donnel, who also administered the construction of the first Redemptorists parish in Malate, Manila which was later relocated in Baclaran, where the National Shrine was establshed in 1932.
The Baclaran Mystique
The Baclaran mystique , as explained by Fr. Pedro "Pete" Katigbak, Parish Priest of Baclaran Church:
- The church is open for public 24 hours a day as authorized by the Vatican.
- The church is for the people. The people relate with God through the intercession of Mary on their own will with the help of priests and lay workers. The Baclaran Urban Mission Project incorportes health, livelihood and youth leadership programs for urban poor families living in Sto. Niño, Parañaque and Las Piñas, Metro Manila. People learned the values of thrift and accountability. The profits from the sales of their products have been a big help in raising their standards of living. They consider Baclaran as the center of their spiritual and physical life.
- Baclaran focuses on the children's welfare. Blessed Genaro Sarnelli Home gives free elemetary and high school education to those streetchildren aged two to 18 years. They also give psychological counselling.
- The Church is a nursemaid of the arts. St. Alphonsus, the patron saint of the Order, was a painter, architect and composer of religious music. The Baclaran Shrine displays the paintings done by the Redemptorist priests and brothers and of developing artists living in the Baclaran community.
- Business prospers around the church. The Baclaran flea market is an intersection where the spiritual and temporal natures of humanity meets. The Redemptorists preach that through the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady, we can have access to the Lord.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is honored by novena prayers and massess every Wednesday. Nearly quarter of a million gathers at the Baclaran Church, acknowledged to be the biggest Christian Church and Marian Shrine in the Philippines, to show devotion. The image is venerated by many Catholics in the country. Her feast day is celebrated on June 27, where devotees flock to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, to give thanks, to pray, and ask for the intercession of Our Lady.
- Barcelona, Mary Anne. Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines. Edited by Consuelo B. Estepa, P.D. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2004.