Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Story of the Icon

There are many shrines of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) throughout the world. Each shrine has an authentic copy of the original Icon of OLPH, which is in the Church of St. Alfonso in Rome.

An icon is painting done on wood. The icon of OLPH comes from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. Who painted it and when it was painted has never been clearly established. It was brought by a Cretan merchant to Rome, Italy, in 1498. In 1499 it was formally placed in the Church of St. Matthew. It was known as a miraculous icon. As it was being moved to the Church in 1499, a man with a paralyzed arm was cured. It remained in St. Matthew's until 1798, about 300 years. The Napoleonic armies had overrun Italy. In 1798, General Massena ordered St. Matthew's and a number of other churches in Rome to be destroyed. The Icon was taken by the Augustinian Order who looked after the church of St. Matthew, and was kept hidden for the next 68 years.

The Church of St. Alfonso was built very near the site of St. Matthew by the Redemptorist Order. In 1866 Pope Pius IX ordered that the Icon be given to Redemptorists and placed in their Church at St. Alfonso. He also encouraged them to make Mary under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) known throughout the whole world. This they have successfully done and that is why there are many shrines to OLPH throughout the world. They are places of great prayer and devotion.

One of the icons is located in the Church of St. Patrick in Toronto. In 1910 it was touched to the original Icon in the Church of S. Alfonso in Rome and blessed by Pope Pius X. It was then installed in the new Shrine Church of St. Patrick in Toronto. The devotion to OLPH continues to flourish at St. Patrick to this very day. Every Wednesday hundreds of people from all over the city of Toronto come to the Shrine to praise God and honour our Lady. They bring their hopes and prayers and thanksgivings. They leave with greater peace in their hearts.