Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine
This shrine, farther northwest on the path, consists of a beautiful mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help housed in a Byzantine styled cupola. The imagery of this gold-laden mosaic icon displays Mary’s contemplation on the child of whom she is the vessel of honor. The cupola itself is known for its simplicity, appropriate as the holy abode for the humble Mother of Christ.
Byzantine Rite Catholics, like Roman Catholics, share the same faith and doctrine of the Catholic Church. Both are united under the leadership of the Pope in Rome. Over two hundred Byzantine Rite Catholics attend the pilgrimages to Mission Nombre de Dios to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The parishes of the Passaic Southern Deanery Diocese stretch from Miami, Florida to Passic, New Jersey. The faithful pilgrims in the Passaic Diocese gave the icon replica to the Mission Nombre de Dios as a gift of charity on October 1, 1988.
The original portrait of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or Succour) elegantly painted on wood first appeared in San Matteo in Rome, but the French invaded Rome in 1812 and destroyed the church. Rediscovered by the general public again in the early 1860’s at an Augustinian oratory, Pope Pius IX then ordered that it be venerated once again for the world to see at St. Alphonsus Church, built near the ruins of San Matteo where it now resides.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help presents a portrait of the Blessed Virgin holding Christ in a loving, matriarchal embrace. Fixed above Jesus and Mary both crowned in glory, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel offer Christ the objects of His Passion as Mary mothers Jesus by coming to His aid when His sandal has come off. Looking more intently at the portrait, one notices Greek abbreviations translating to Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel.
The Byzantine rite and the Latin rite both draw inspiration and devotion to Mary from scripture, the main instance being Luke 1:46-55. Both incorporate this passage known as the Magnificat to Roman Catholics and to Eastern Catholics as the Canticle of Mary into their liturgical year:
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of His servant. From now
on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for
me – holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His
arm; He has scattered those who are proud in
their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their
thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has remembered His servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as He said to our fathers.”