Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
The Roman liturgical calendar keeps the memory of St. Cyril of Alexandria today. St. Cyril was a fourth century bishop who defended the title of Theotokos (Mother of God) at the Council of Ephesus. Coincidentally, the church also celebrates the Blessed Virgin under the title of "Mother of Perpetual Help" today.
St. Cyril wrote: That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.
St. Athanasius wrote: As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Savior; namely, that he is and has always been God, since he is the Word, Radiance, and Wisdom of the Father; and that for our sake in these latter days he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man.
The Blessed Virgin is known by many titles in our Christian, Catholic tradition. The title of Mother of Perpetual Help is one that goes as far back as the fifteenth century. Today the icon is kept in the Church of St. Alphonse of Ligouri in Rome. Devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help is fostered by the Redemptorist Community and is particularly strong in the U.S. and the Philippines.
The icon is also known as the Virgin (or Theotokos) of the Passion as it shows the archangels Gabriel and Michael holding the instruments of the Passion. The Madonna is pointing to the baby, her son, a traditional attitude in most icons of the Blessed Mother.