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The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

After the building of the east wing of the church in 1955-56, a large new icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was given the place of honor behind the altar; it was installed in 1964. The Icon was painted by Igor Suhacev of Toronto.

The Icon is a representation of the original Miraculous icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, which is venerated today at the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome. This original is so ancient that it cannot be said with certainty who painted it. One legend attributes it to St. Luke.

This Byzantine Icon, contains much symbolism, which teaches by means of a story. Frightened by the vision of two angels showing Him the instruments of Passion, the Christ Child ran to His Mother, almost losing, in His haste, one of the tiny sandals. Mary holds Him in her arms reassuringly and lovingly. But notice her eyes. They look not at Jesus, but at us, thus signifying her motherly concern also for us.

Christ’s little hands are pressed into Mary’s as a reminder to us that, just as on earth, He placed Himself entirely in her hands for protection, so now in heaven He has given into Her hands all graces to distribute to those who ask her.

Among other symbols used is the star on Our Lady’s veil. She is the Star of the Sea, who brought the light of Christ to the darkened world, the star that leads us to the safe port of heaven. The entire background is golden, symbolic of heaven, and reflecting upon her clothing, shows the heavenly joy they can bring to tired human hearts.

The golden crown, placed on the original icon by order of the Holy See in 1867, is a token of the many miracles wrought by Our Lady invoked under the title of “Our Mother of Perpetual Help”.

Pope Pius IX entrusted this miraculous icon to the Redemptorists with the instruction: “See to it that Our Mother of Perpetual Help is made known throughout the world”.

It is most fitting that the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help holds the place of honor in St. Mary’s Church in Yorkton, Sask., a church under the pastoral care of the Ukrainian Catholic Redemptorists.

 

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