Devotion to Mary Help of Christians I Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco
Christians throughout the centuries have constantly experienced the miraculous
help of Mary, there have been certain times and places in history when
communities of Christians have experienced the power of Mary's intervention
in most dramatic ways.
One of the greatest victories of all time took place at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, when a mighty fleet of Moslems, heretics and infidels threatened to invade and overrun all Europe. The saintly Pope Pius V called for rosary crusades and Blessed Sacrament processions everywhere. The Christian forces aboard their tiny fleet publicly prayed the Rosary and received the Sacraments before going into the battle against their enemies who outnumbered them four to one with bigger and more powerful ships. In the beginning, the Christian fleet fared badly. But suddenly, in the midst of the battle, the wind which had been against them changed in their favor. This threw the Turkish fleet into confusion, with one ship shooting another. As the battle raged into late afternoon, a great storm arose, sinking many more of the Turkish ships. finally, the few that remained fled in confusion, and the vaunted Turkish power over the Mediterranean was broken. The Christian commander, don Juan of austria, publicly proclaimed that his triumph was due to the powerful intercession of the Queen of the Rosary. And the Venetian Senate wrote to other states, claiming that "It was not generals, nor battalions, nor arms, that brought us victory; but it was our Lady of the Rosary."
To commemorate such a miraculous victory, Pope St. Pius V ordered the celebration of the Feast of the Most Holy rosary, and the addition of the invocation "AUXILIUM CHRISTIANORUM, ORA PRO NOBIS" (HELP OF CHRISTIANS, PRAY FOR US) in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
In 1809, rosary petitions once again went up for Mary's help. Napoleon had responded to his excommunication by abducting the Pope, Pius VII, with the intention of pressuring him to sign a treaty that would give the Emperor powers over the Church and state in France and all conquered territories. anti-clerical newspapers at that time predicted "not Pius VII but Pius the last." But at the height of his victories, while Christians everywhere prayed to Mary for the frail, exiled pontiff at Fontainbleau, Napoleon encountered the winters of Moscow and met his Waterloo. On the very day that Napoleon was forced to sign his abdication from power, Pius VII returned from his 5-year exile to a tumultuous reception in rome. The day was MAY 24. A year later, in 1815, the Pope consecrated that day perpetually to Mary and instituted the FEAST OF MARY, HELP OF CHRISTIANS, "to commemorate the unhoped for help of Mary most holy towards the Pope and the Christian people."
devotion to Mary Help of Christians could have been forgotten had not the
Spirit raised up St. John Bosco (1815-1888) for the salvation of the youth.
As a young priest, Don Bosco had promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart
of Mary and to Our Lady of Sorrows, devotions which had been popular for
centuries. but in 1863, Don Bosco began to honor Mary under the title
Help of Christians. It was in these years that anti-clericals were
strongly attacking the Church and the Pope. From the human point
of view, the "Bark of Peter" was sinking, and was desperately in need of
miraculous assistance. In 1862, a painting of Mary which the Archbishop
of Spoletto venerated under the title "Help of Christians" was seen by
many to shed tears miraculously. Furthermore, it is said that Pius
IX, in a talk with don Bosco, had shown his predilection for this title
of Mary. Most of all, don Bosco had been led through supernatural
guidance to construct a church dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians.
In spite of numerous obstacles from anti-clerical civil officials, as well
as a constant lack of funds, the grand Basilica of Mary Help of christians
in turin was miraculously completed in 1868.
To Don Bosco, Mary's help was more than ever needed in his day because there "were so many lukewarm Christians to make fervent, sinners to convert and innocent to protect. the Catholic Church herself is being assaulted." Under the invocation help of Christians he worked many miracles and labored for the salvation of thousands of youth. He worked feverishly to spread this devotion, encouraging all to have confidence in Mary's intercession. "Have a devotion to Mary, and you will see what miracles are," he often said.
|Today, in the turmoil of the 20th century, Christians everywhere implore the help of Mary, and continue to experience her power intercession. In god's constant plan, she has always been and will always be the help of Christians. She intervenes to assist the Church of the individual in times of crisis and pain, in sorrow, confusion, fear, loneliness, and even when life is at its darkest. As the humble servant of God, she obediently submits to her role in the divine Plan of saving mankind.|
National Shrine of Mary Help