Iconologist Br. Dan Korn discussing aspects of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Iconologist Br. Dan Korn discussing aspects of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.


A triduum and feast day Mass in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was celebrated on June 21-23 at St. Alphonsus “Rock” Church in St. Louis, marking the 100th anniversary of the weekly perpetual novena at the parish. Noted iconologist Br. Dan Korn discussed the strong Marian devotion of St. Alphonsus Liguori, and shared the mission of redemption as well as the significance of the elements depicted in the icon. The parish also welcomed Redemptorist Bishop Bruce Lewandowski of Baltimore, a champion of social justice, to celebrate the feast day Mass on June 26.

Parishioner Deborah Grant called the Sunday celebration dynamic, and said that Bishop Bruce’s message on Our Mother of Perpetual Help was uplifting and inspiring. She also noted that Ronda Branch’s solo performance to “Ave Maria” was “breathtakingly beautiful.” Denise and Ben Phillips added that Ronda and the Liturgical Leaders in Motion were “always on cue and performed brilliantly.” Richard Buckley, a Redemptorist Associate, appreciated the homily. “Bishop Lewandowski gave a profound, uplifting, and beautiful personal testament to the true power of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. He made us think about how many times we have turned to her, and the countless petitions that she interceded on for everyone who has turned to her. His message was a blessing to everyone who heard it,” he said.

Historians credit the humble start of the weekly perpetual novena at the “Rock” in 1922 with catapulting the fulfillment of Pope Pius IX’s mandate to “make her known.” The City of St. Louis established bus routes specifically for the tens of thousands of faithful Catholics going to one of the 11 services the Redemptorists led on a single day. Historical records indicate that more than a million people attended the Solemn Novena between 1923 and 1934. Redemptorist confreres spread the devotion to virtually every church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and then to parishes throughout the entire country. Redemptorist missionaries serving as military chaplains and those working in developing countries around the world also introduced  and fostered devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

“We hope that the triduum and feast day celebration bring more of the faithful back to participate in our Tuesday devotions every week,” said Fr. Steve Benden, pastor. Fr. Steve and Associate Pastor Fr. Rodney Olive are already renewing interest in the novena within the “Rock” community. Parishioners may now purchase candles and place them before the historic Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to demonstrate their reliance on her intercession, and the faithful now receive a special blessing with a handheld icon plaque every week. Prayer intentions and testimonials are read during the service, and those unable to attend may submit prayer intentions and participate in the novena online.

“There are so many people in the world who share our devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help,” said Fr. Rodney. “We had participation from the faithful in at least eight countries, for a truly international celebration.”

Our Mother of Perpetual Help continues to intercede for her children, and Fr. Steve hopes that the enthusiasm evident at the recent celebration inspires the faithful in St. Louis and elsewhere throughout the world to once again participate in the powerful novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.


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