The following post is written by Fr. Santo Arrigo, CSsR, Pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, Toronto.
The 150th Jubilee of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been a year of celebration and inspiration. The faithful have renewed their confidence in Mary as an intercessor in times of need and a model of Christian discipleship.
In 1866, Pope Pius IX gave the Redemptorists the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, saying, “Make Her known throughout the world.” On April 26, 1866, the original icon was processed from the Church of St. Mary Major in Rome to the Church of St. Alphonsus and restoring the icon to public veneration. Throughout this Jubilee Year, St. Patrick’s Church, in Toronto, offers weekly devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We hold special talks and presentations on the history and meaning of the icon and workshops on praying with icons.
On April 26, 2016, 150 years after the first procession of the icon in Rome, Redemptorists and a large group took to the streets of Toronto to process with the beloved image of our Mother from St. Michael’s Cathedral to St. Patrick’s Church, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
The procession travelled along Dundas Street, through Dundas Square, Bay Street and University Avenue, ending at McCaul Street on the front steps of St. Patrick’s Church.
Led by the Redemptorist novices and the Knights of Columbus, several groups from Toronto joined in the procession, including the Legion of Mary, Kolping Society, St. Patrick’s Senior’s Club, Confraternita Termitana and the St. Mary’s Portuguese Bandado Senhor Santo Cristo. An estimated 1500 people participated, including some from as far as Windsor and Gatineau, Quebec. The icon was carried by Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR, Provincial Superior, accompanied by Bishop John Pazak, CSsR., Bishop for the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Community in Canada, Redemptorists and guest clergy.
Upon arrival at St. Patrick’s, the procession entered the church to celebrate Mass. Fr. Mark Miller presided and Bishop John Pazak was the homilist.
Similar celebrations and processions took place throughout the world, including a procession in Rome. Each was a testimony of the love shown to Mary through this beloved icon.
Since the Redemptorists came to St. Patrick’s Church in 1881, Our Mother of Perpetual Help has been an important part of the missionary dynamism that continues to influence preaching, service to the poor and abandoned, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and devotions to Mary. The six Wednesday Novena Masses with Devotions continue to draw thousands each week.
We will continue to celebrate this Jubilee of the 150th Anniversary through talks on Sundays and Wednesdays and look forward to the Novena Triduum on June 27-29, 2016, when we will welcome over 1000 pilgrims each evening with celebrant and preacher Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, CSsR, from the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan, Alberta.
We give thanks to Mary Our Mother for her continued intercession and care for the faithful who turn to her in need, being sheltered under the mantle of her love.
Visit our website, www.stpatrickstoronto.ca, to view pictures from the procession and learn more about this Jubilee.