Catholic Dictionary




Roman shrine on Via Merulana containing the miraculous picture of Madonna and Child. The picture rests on the main altar and is painted like an icon. Two angels designated as Sts. Michael and Gabriel are flying beside the Virgin's head, carrying in their veiled hands the instruments of Christ's Passion, the Cross, the spear, and the sponge. Some think that St. Luke painted the picture, but it was more probably a Greek artist of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It was first in the possession of a wealthy Cretan merchant, then, brought to Rome and eventually enthroned in St. Matthew's Church in the Holy City after first being carried in a street procession. For three hundred years crowds of pilgrims have journeyed far to see this picture, the source of many cures. In 1812, St. Matthew's Church was razed and for fifty-four years the picture's location was not known. When it was found, Pope Pius IX gave it to the Redemptorists Fathers for their church on the spot where Mary first had been revered in this special manner as Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The American national shrine honoring her under that name is at Roxbury, Massachusetts.