The image, consequently, was housed at the Church of St. Matthew, and became known as “The Madonna of Saint Matthew.” Pilgrims flocked to the church for the next three hundred years, and great graces were bestowed upon the faithful. After Napoleon’s troops destroyed the Church of St. Matthew in 1812, the image was transferred to the Church of St. Mary in Posterula, and remained there for nearly forty years. There, the image was neglected and forgotten.
By divine providence, the forgotten image was rediscovered. In 1866, Blessed Pope Pius IX entrusted the image to the Redemptorists, who had just built the Church of St. Alphonsus, down the street from St. Mary Major. As a boy, the Holy Father had prayed before the image in the Church of St. Matthew.
He ordered the public display and veneration of the image, and fixed the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. In 1867, when the image was being carried in a solemn procession through the streets, a young child was cured, the first of many recorded miracles attributed to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. To this day, the Church of St. Alphonsus displays the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and welcome pilgrims for prayer. May each of us never hesitate to invoke the prayers and intercession of Our Blessed Mother in time of need.
Prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help O Holy Virgin Mary, who to inspire me with boundless confidence has been pleased to take the sweet name of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, I implore You to come to my aid always and everywhere: in my temptations, after my falls, in my difficulties, in all the miseries of life, and above all, at the hour of my death. Give me, O loving Mother, the desire and the habit to have recourse to You trusting that You will be faithful and come to my assistance.
Obtain for me then this grace of graces: the grace to pray to You without ceasing and with childlike confidence that I may ensure Your perpetual Help and final perseverance. O Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me now and at the hour of my death. Amen.