Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
The Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is celebrated every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the church.
Sponsored by the Filipino-American Association of St. Magdalen’s (FASTMAG), this rich and ancient Catholic devotion dates back to 14th century Europe and has drawn the faithful in every age and place closer to Jesus through the intercession of his Holy Mother.
Each novena at St. Magdalen’s is preceded by a rosary prayed at 5:00 p.m., is followed by delicious Filipino food and fellowship, and the first Wednesday of the month includes Eucharistic adoration and benediction.
Since its inception in 2005, St. Magdalen’s Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help has become a spiritual anchor for our community, uniting parishioners from all ethnic backgrounds in our common faith, and placing us under the protection of Our Blessed Mother.
St. Magdalen’s novena began with a handful of devotees and has now grown to more than 50 participants each and every Wednesday.
What is a Novena?
Traditionally a novena is a set of devotional and intercessory prayers offered for a set period of nine days, (novena is from the Latin, novem, meaning nine). But the term can more generally refer to any set of prayers recited regularly. In the case of our novena, prayers are led by a priest or deacon, and include various songs in honor of the Blessed Mother, and a broad range of petitions seeking the help and intercession of Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help. The novena is a rich opportunity to place our own needs and the needs of others at our loving Mother’s feet, with great hope that through her intercession, God will hear and answer them.
To learn more, please see the “Resources” section to the right of this page to view our worship aid.
We Can Trust in Mary’s Intercession
Throughout the ages, men and women of faith have turned to Mary in their pursuit of a deeper, more intimate connection with her son. As he hung from the cross, Jesus placed each one of us in the care and protection of his mother. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother'" (John 19:26-27). With confidence, we can rely on this powerful gift Jesus has given to his Church! We do not worship Mary, but rather trust that she, as Holy Mother watches over us as her own precious children and that she is a sacred doorway into a profound and everlasting connection with Almighty God!
The source of deep spiritual renewal, countless miracles and healings, the devotion and plea for the intercession of Mary, in the name of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, has spread throughout the world. In the Philippines, the weekly novena draws tens of millions to churches all across the country. At the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, 120,000 devotees come throughout every Wednesday to honor Our Mother and ask for her intercession!
Please see the “Resources” section to the right of this page to experience via video the profoundly intimate connection with our Holy Mother each one of us is invited to have.
National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Baclaran, Parañaque City, Philippines.
Please consider making this devotion part of your developing spiritual life. Every time we take a step in his direction, God is there ready to pour out his grace in abundance! Some day we hope to have numbers rivaling those in the Philippines!
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Feast Day
At the end of June, St. Magdalen’s celebrates the feast day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (June 27) with a special Mass and procession.
This beautiful painted icon, generously donated by FASTMAG, is processed through the streets of Flemington,
a public display of our unity in Christ and faith in his mother’s intercession. Another image of Our Mother,
also donated by FASTMAG, was made in the Philippines and now hangs in the narthex.
History of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help or Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pope Pius IX, in association with a sacred Byzantine iconAn icon is a sacred work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches. The icon is generally a flat panel painting depicting Jesus, Mary, saints, angels or the cross.
Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words... For it (an icon) confirms that the incarnation of the Word of God was real and not imaginary... CCC 1160
An icon is not to be worshiped, but is meant to be a sacred portal or doorway into a deeper connection with the living God. dating back to the 14th century.
The original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has been under the protection of the Redemptorist order of priests since 1866 and is currently in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori, in Rome. An integral part of the Redemptorist’s missionary work, this luminous icon has been copied and introduced to nearly every corner of the world. For well over half a millennium, the faithful have flocked to images of Our Mother of Perpetual Help seeking her intercession for a wide range of petitions including for strength, comfort, protection, healing, maternal guidance, and freedom from temptation. Countless miracles over the centuries have been attributed to the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Description of the Icon
Early Beginnings and Journey to Rome
Judging from its Byzantine style and Greek inscriptions, the icon was most likely painted on the island of Crete in Greece. Some believe it to be an authentic copy of an icon painted by Saint Luke that was venerated in Constantinople (Byzantium) until the city was taken over in the mid 15th century. A parchment attached to the back of the icon tells of a merchant who stole it and brought it by boat to Rome. It was kept in a private home until a young girl was visited by the Virgin Mary in a dream. It is said that Mary told the little girl the icon should be seen by the public and placed between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. On March 27, 1499, Mary’s wishes were carried out. The icon was placed in the Church of St. Matthew the Apostle and for the next 300 years, people from all walks of life came to venerate it and ask for Our Mother’s intercession.
The Icon is Lost
In 1798 over 30 churches in Rome, including the Church of St. Matthew, were destroyed by Napoleon’s army. Thankfully, the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was rescued by Augustinian friars and kept safe for the next 68 years. In 1866, Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon under the official title of “Our Mother of Perpetual Help” to the Redemptorists, an order of Italian missionary priests as part of their call to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Embracing their new charge, the Redemptorist Fathers built the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori on the same site where the former Church of St. Matthew stood and returned the icon to her shrine, where it is placed to this day!
Introducing Our Mother to the World
Fueled by their call to spread the Gospel and the growing devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Redemptorists commissioned faithfully rendered reproductions of her image and introduced her to the mission lands throughout the world through their preaching and catechizing. Growing churches, hungering for an authentic encounter with Jesus, through Our Mother, often had to hold up to ten devotional services a day to meet the needs and desires of the faithful.
In 1906, the Redemptorists brought the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Philippines, where it grew strong and spread throughout the island nation. Much like its European past, the icon was saved and concealed during the Japanese invasion of World War II and then stolen for a time. After much prayer and searching, it was rediscovered in 1945 and returned to her shrine at the Redemptorist church in Baclaran. The first novena was celebrated there on June 23, 1948.
As the devotion grew, it became necessary to build a bigger shrine. The faithful gave generously and a new church was erected and consecrated in December of 1958. From that date to the present, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, in the Philippines has never closed its doors. It is open day and night to accommodate the hundreds of thousands who come around the clock to pray before the icon of the Virgin. Every Wednesday, seven sessions of the novena with benediction, along with three novena Masses and two sung Masses are held. Over 120,000 faithful come each Wednesday, beginning before the sun rises until well after midnight. In an outward display of penitence and humility, many approach the icon walking on their knees! And thousands line up at the confessionals to prepare their hearts to receive the Eucharist.
Coming to America
In 1878, the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Massachusetts obtained a certified copy of the icon, the first in the United States. In June 1922, the first American novena service dedicated to the icon was recited in Saint Alphonsus "The Rock" church in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then, devotions to Our Mother have spread all over the United States, often growing out of the strong faith of Filipino parishioners and their steadfast commitment to Christ and his church.