The devotion to Our Lady under the title of Help of Christians, wants to show our trust in the maternal presence of Mary in the events of humanity, of the Church and of each of us.
Mary is the Mother who never abandons her children, but follows them and helps with her intercession. The title of Mary, Help of Christians has always been invoked, since 1500, among the Lauretan litanies.
The devotion to Mary, Help of Christians was already known and widespread at the time of St. Pius V and spread widely following the victory of the Christians against the Turks, in Lepanto (1571) and in Vienna (1683). Pope Pius VII, after his release from Napoleonic imprisonment (1814), instituted the feast of Mary, Help of Christians, setting the date for May 24th.
In times particularly difficult for the Church, Don John Bosco (1815-1888) became an apostle of devotion to Mary, Help of Christians. In 1862 he confided to Don Cagliero, future cardinal:
“Our Lady wants us to honor her under the title of Mary, Help of Christians: times run so sad that we need the most holy Virgin to help us preserve and defend the Christian faith” (MB 7,334).
In 1868 he erected in Turin a beautiful temple named after under that title of Her. In the beautiful, her devoted son st. John Bosco and other Salesian holy figures are buried. One can find there the beautiful and majestic painting, requested by the founder himself, which represents Our Lady, Help of Christians who with the scepter of command and with the Child in her arms, is surrounded by the Apostles and Evangelists and is suspended on a cloud, in the background below, is the Sanctuary and the Oratory as it appeared in 1868, the year of the execution of the work of the painter Tommaso Lorenzone.
The meaning of the whole picture is very clear: just as Mary was present with the apostles in Jerusalem during Pentecost, therefore at the beginning of the Church’s activity, so too She stands to protect and guide the Church over the centuries, the apostles represent the pope and the bishops.
In 1869 he founded the Association of Devotees of Mary Help of Christians and later spread this devotion all over the world. To Mary, Mother of the Church and Help of Christians, we turn with trust and gratitude for her favors.
Mary Help of Christians according to the words of Don Bosco
Those who trust in Mary will never be disappointed. In Mary I placed all my trust. Our Lady never leaves things halfway. I recommend that you always invoke the name of Mary, especially with this title: Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us. It is a prayer not so long, but one that proved itself very effective! Our confidence is in the help of Mary, Help of Christians. The Lord and his divine Mother will not allow it to be repeated in vain: Mary, help of Christians, pray for us! Always say and preach that Mary, help of Christians has obtained and will always obtain special graces, even extraordinary and miraculous thanks to those who contribute to giving Christian education to the perilous youth with works, with counsel, and with a good example or simply with prayer … When you wish obtain some grace take as a habit of reciting this ejaculatory: Maria, Auxilium Cristianorum, ora pro nobis … Many invoking it with this ejaculatory obtained special graces. Mary, Help of Christians is the thaumaturgist, she is the worker of graces and miracles for the high power she received from her Divine Son.
PRAYER TO MARY, HELP OF CHRISTIAN BY DON BOSCO
O Mary, powerful Virgin,
Great illustrious protector of the Church;
Wonderful help of Christians;
Terrible as an army arrayed in battle;
You alone have destroyed all heresy in the whole world;
You, in our distress, struggles, and difficulties,
defend us from the enemy and at the hour of death
welcome our soul to Heaven!
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