Saint of the Day – 24 May – The Feast of Mary Help of Christians – Patronages: Australia (proclaimed on 17 July 1916 by Pope Benedict XV), New Zealand, Andorran security forces, Australian military chaplains, New York, diocese of Townsville, Australia.
Mary Help of Christians (Latin: Sancta Maria Auxilium Christianorum; Spanish: Nuestra Señora María Auxiliadora; Filipino: Maria, Mapag-ampon sa mga Kristiyano), is a Roman Catholic Marian devotion with a feast day celebrated on May 24. Saint John Chrysostom was the first person to use this Marian title in year 345 as a devotion to the Virgin Mary. Don Bosco also propagated Marian devotion under this title. Pope Leo XIII granted a Canonical coronation towards the Marian image bearing the same title on 17 May 1903, now presently enshrined within the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. Pope Benedict XVI during his Regina Caeli papal address on 24 May 2009 invoked this Marian patronage, under the venerated title of Our Mother of Sheshan, calling for Chinese Catholics to renew their fidelity to the Pope as the sole successor of Saint Peter. Below is the image of Mary Help of Christians enshrined in her Turin basilica, where Pope Leo XIII granted a Canonical coronation on 17 May 1903 and the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Turin, founded by St. John Bosco
As Mother of God’s children, Mary has responded by helping Christians throughout the ages. She has done this by coming to the aid of individuals, families, towns, kingdoms and nations.
In 1214 she gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic as a weapon to combat the Albigesian heresy which was devastating Southern France. It is very clear to Christians and it is also the Will of God that we have and will continue to have the Help of Mary through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
In the year 1531 Our Lady appeared in Mexico to an indian named Juan Diego. He was a humble peasant aged 51. As a result of the apparitions, over 10 million indians were converted to Catholicism, the sacrificial killings of babies stopped, and Our Lady left an image which is a reflection of herself imprinted miraculously on the tilma of Juan Diego.
In 1571 the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when faithful Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.
Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna. Pope Innocent XI united Christendom against the ominous attack of Mohammedanism. A great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians. On September 8th, Feast of Our Lady’s Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out “Mary, Help!” and praying the Holy rosary.
In 1809, Napoleon’s men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Pope smuggled out orders from prison for the whole of Christendom to pray to Our Lady Help of Christians, and thus the whole of Europe once again became a spiritual battle ground, not of arms against ruthless arms but of Rosaries against ruthless military might. Soon Napoleon was off the throne and the Pope freed from prison.
After proving her maternal help, throughout the centuries, Our Lady has continued to appear in hundreds of places throughout the world mainly during the 20th century, Lourdes and Fatima being the most famous apparitions. She has brought help from Heaven, and has warned her children to do prayer and penance as a formula for peace. She has stressed that her children must pray the Holy Rosary daily.