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"...and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
In this wonderful icon, Jesus clings to His mother for protection and love as angels bring reminders of His coming Passion. This image has been venerated since the fifteenth century and has been especially important for the Redemptorists since 1866. Card size 4 3/8" x 6".
Icon greeting cards are single-fold cards printed on heavy stock, 4.38" x 5.93". The cards are blank inside for your own message or custom imprint and have an explanation of the history and symbolism of the icon printed on the back.
Where and by whom the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was created is lost in antiquity. A merchant from the island of Crete stole the painting from a church there and brought it to Rome. Before dying there of an illness, he gave it to a Roman friend. The Roman kept the picture for a time, but placed it in St. Matthew’s church in 1499. (According to legend, Mary herself commanded that the icon should be placed there.) In 1798, Napoleon’s general ordered the destruction of thirty churches in Rome, including St. Matthew’s. The icon’s destruction was assumed, but it had been rescued and carried to a chapel many miles away. In 1853, a religious order known as the Redemptorists established their world headquarters in Rome. They purchased an estate that included the ruins of St. Matthew’s church. One of their members, Fr. Michael Marti, knew the whereabouts of the old icon from serving as an altar boy in the chapel where it had been hidden from Napoleon’s army. Some years later, the Redemptorists asked Pope Pius IX to bring the icon back to Rome. In 1886 it was placed in the Church of St. Alphonsus with great ceremony. The Redemptorists received a mission from the Pope to make Our Mother of Perpetual Help known throughout the world. A worldwide spiritual organization exists today known as the Archconfraternity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help having millions of members. If you wish more information, contact Liguori Publications at 800-325-9521 or visit their web site, mission.liguori.org.
Transported by fear, Jesus flees to the comforting arms of His mother in such haste that He nearly loses a sandal. He clings to her hand for reassurance as He looks with apprehension over His shoulder. The archangels Gabriel and Michael hover in the background, bearing the instruments of the passion. On the left, Michael holds a jar filled with sour wine, the reed tipped with a sponge, and the lance that would pierce His side. On the right, Gabriel brings the Cross. Although Jesus is God, he is also human and justifiably afraid of this vision of the suffering and death He will undergo. Mary’s hands remain open and she gazes at us as well as at her Son. We are invited to flee to her protection just as her Divine Son has demonstrated to us through His example. Mary’s eyes are very large, her nose noble and long, her mouth beautifully shaped. Mary’s face is calm but with an expression of sadness, as if recalling Simeon’s words, "...and a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:35) The overall composition has the form of a triangle inscribed in a rectangle. This is intended to represent the mystery of the Trinity coming to reside in the world. Gold leaf is used on Mary’s halo and that of Jesus to express unearthly light, the divine origin of sanctity. Christ’s halo is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling "HO ON." In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. Greek letters are also inscribed on the background. "ICXC" is an abbreviation for Jesus Christ, Iesous Khristos. "MPØY" is an abbreviation for Mother of God, Meter Theou. Jesus is dressed as an adult, not as a baby. He wears a tunic and a cloak, called a himation. The rich cloak is symbolic of His divine royalty. Mary wears a maphorion or cloak and a veil over her dress. Red or black are the colors most often used in Byzantine iconography for this maphorion unlike the blue most common in western art. Her veil is adorned with three stars on the head and shoulders (one is hidden by the child). These are symbolic of Mary’s perpetual virginity; before, during, and after her Son’s birth.