Our Lady has always been at the heart of Redemptorist life. From the foundation of the Redemptorists there have been many popular images of Mary, each one significant at a particular time. In sequence they were
The whole point of each of these images is to lead the baptised into a life-giving relationship with their eldest sister in the faith – Mary the Mother of Jesus. St John the Evangelist, near the outset of his Gospel, paints a beautiful picture of the joyous events at a country wedding. As he brings the followers of Jesus into the story, he simply says:
The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited.(John 2:1b)
This is John’s way of saying Mary was there then, and so she is with the Church now. The other evangelists also place Mary at the heart of the Jesus story so that she will always be significant in the Church’s story.
She was there at the foot of the Cross, and she was there when the new life of Jesus’ resurrection burst upon the world. She accompanies that life still, for it was born of her, nurtured by her, and by her handed over.
Redemptorists have traditionally understood that to have the Jesus story is to have Mary’s story. They have always understood that if Jesus and his modern day disciples are gathered, then the mother of Jesus is also there in the communion of saints.
And so in Redemptorist prayer, the grace that came through Mary is ever acknowledged. In Redemptorist preaching, her openness is ever extolled, and her cry on behalf of the poor ever proclaimed.
Joyfully honour and love this good lady. Continue faithfully in your devotion to her and you will never be lost.(St Alfonso de Liguori)
From the end of the nineteenth century, and at the request of Pope Pius IX, Redemptorists have promoted devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This title is attached to a quite old icon now enshrined in the Redemptorist Church of St Alphonsus, on the Via Merulana in Rome, Italy.