Icon in the frame: the Pilgrim Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is proving popular; a procession to St John's Cathedral begins on Monday
A REPLICA of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which was blessed last week by Pope Francis in Rome, is being brought to various communities across the city and county, before it starts its nationwide tour next week.
This Monday, April 4, the cherished icon will make its way to St John’s Cathedral, and will then visit 25 other cathedrals around the country for one month. Opening celebrations will take place at Mount St Alphonsus, at 6pm.
Fr Séamus Enright, of the Redemptorist Order, witnessed Pope Francis bless the new icon last Wednesday in Rome. The image was then brought to Mount St Alphonsus on Easter Sunday for the 7.15pm Mass.
As part of their 150 years of devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the South Circular Road order has erected a new shrine on the grounds. He said that people have been “very excited” to see the icon in person.
“People are very devoted to the icon anyway, because it is very much part of Catholic life in Limerick. But I think the fact that this is a new one, it is bright and very vibrant, and the colours and the newness is drawing people.
“People are also very pleased that the Pope blessed it, because when the Pope blessed it, he said to me that, in blessing the icon, he will bless anybody who prayed in front of the icon while it was on its pilgrimage in Ireland.”
Fr Enright said that people will visit the icon as they “draw comfort” from experience of praying to it.
“One of the things that you would be hoping, of course, that as people pray, they will grow in faith and that people’s faith is deepened, their concern for other people is deepened as well. I think the icon reminds us that there is more to life than meets the eye.
“People come with their own problems and it makes them aware of other people’s problems. It builds up solidarity and a solidarity of empathy. I think people who are feeling down draw comfort from knowing that there are other people praying for them.”
Fr Enright told the Limerick Leader that it is a special occasion, as the first icon brought to Ireland was in Limerick, as it was the first Redemptorist church in the country, 150 years ago. Pope Pius IX presented the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists for veneration on their church in Rome in 1865.