The story behind the celebration
+ Pope Pius VII instituted a feast honoring Mary under the title “Help of Christians” after his release from imprisonment by Napoleon. The date May 24 was chosen because this was the day Pope Pius finally returned to Rome.
+ This title was chosen because it reflects the extraordinary help that the Mother of God has offered the Church and individual Christians through the centuries.
+ Mary, “Help of Christians” was a favorite devotion of Saint John Bosco and the devotion has been promoted by the communities he founded: the Salesian Fathers and Brothers and the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.
+ Our Lady, Help of Christians is invoked as the patron saint of Australia and New Zealand.
Today the Church in Canada honors Blessed Louis-Zéphirin Moreau, who served as bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, from 1875 until his death on May 24, 1901. He was beatified in 1987. Bishop Moreau is also honored as a co-founder two communities of women religious: the Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Hyacinthe and the Sisters of Saint Martha.
“Graciousness is poured upon your lips,
for God has blessed you for ever more.”—Psalm 45:3
Grant us, O merciful God,
protection in our weakness,
that we, who keep the Memorial of the holy Mother of god,
may, with the help of her intercession,
rise up from our iniquities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.