O MOTHER of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.
O purest Mary!
O sweetest Mary!
Let your name henceforth, be ever on my lips.
Delay not, o Blessed Lady to succor me whenever I call on you.
In all my temptations, in all my needs, I will never cease to call on you.
Ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary!
Oh, what consolations, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fills my soul when I utter your sacred name, or even only think of you!
I thank the Lord for having given you for my good, 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 the favor
I confidently ask of you.
(Three Hail Marys)
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was brought to Rome toward the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration.
It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo.
The church was served for a time by the Hermits of St. Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress. These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church.
The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula.
The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated December 11, 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succor should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of St. Alphonsus.
The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favor of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (April 26, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (June 23, 1867).
He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and by a decree dated May 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This favor later on was also granted to others.
Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide, Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor and St. Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences.
He was amongst the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity. Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from St. Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world.
At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.
In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.