Wednesday, May 24. of this year is the 6th Wednesday of Easter, and also the Vigil of the Ascension. But another celebration is marked annually on this day by the liturgical calendar: The Feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated every May 24. We often hear of the invocation “Help of Christians” in the Litany of Loreto, but how did it start and flourish?
It was through the intercession of Mary that the tiny Christian fleet emerged victorious over the much larger navy of the Turkish Empire on October 7, 1571. In commemoration of this victory, Pope Pius V added the invocation “Help of Christians” to the Litany of Loreto.
This word was the Greek term for helper and it was first used by St. John Chrysostom to refer to Mary.
This would be the first shrine dedicated to Mary. It can be visited now in Passau, Germany. It was through the invocation of “Maria Hilf” (Mary – Help!) by the people that they were delivered from the invaders.
Pope Pius VII was released from prison after he was arrested by order of Napoleon Bonaparte on this date. Upon his liberation, Pius VII’s first official act was to establish the feast of Mary, Help of Christians to be celebrated every May 24.
The ardent promulgator of the devotion to Mary under the title, Help of Christians. Through him and with the help of his congregation, the Salesians of Don Bosco, the devotion began to flourish. St. John Bosco constructed the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, Italy, which is the center of devotion around the world.
This guest post was contributed to Catholic-Link by Andrew Chanco.
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