Ave Maria Meditations
An icon is not simply an artistic representation. Once it is blessed, it becomes a window to heaven, a point of contact, “so that in praying before it, one is in the spiritual presence of the person represented. Reverently kissing the icon, one kisses the personage; bowing before it, one bows before the personage” June 27th is the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Our Lady’s Golden Crown was placed on the icon by order of the Vatican in 1867; it is a symbol of the many miracles performed by Our Lady while invoked under the title of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”. The child Jesus’ crown was also placed on the original icon by order of the Holy See in 1867. The star in the center of Mary’s Veil is indicative that she is the “Star of the Sea” who bore the light of Christ into our darkened world. This star leads us to the safe port of Heaven.
The primary initials on either side of Our Lady’s Crown are the Greek initials for “Mother of God” The initials above the angel on the left are the Greek initials of St. Michael the Archangel The angel on the left, St. Michael, is depicted holding the lance and gall-sop, foreshadowing Christ’s Passion and death. Our Lady’s Blue Garment is the color worn by mother’s in Palestine, symbolic that Mary is both Virgin and Mother. Mary’s red tunic underneath is the color worn by Virgins during the time of Jesus.
Both Mary and Jesus’ Clothing are colors of royalty. Our Lady’s face is peaceful, serene, and contemplative of her son Jesus’ future sufferings. Our Lady’s mouth is tiny and silent for prayer, meditation and recollection. Mary’s eyes are large to see our troubles and needs; they are always turned toward us. They also tenderly plead for us to avoid sin and remain faithful to and love her son, Jesus.
The entire golden background is a symbol of Heaven, where both Jesus and Mary are now enthroned; this Light of Heaven radiates through both of their clothing: an indication of the heavenly joy they bring to human hearts.
The initials above the angel on the right are the Greek initials of St. Gabriel the Archangel. The angel on the right, St. Gabriel, holds the cross and the nails, foreshadowing of His Passion and death. The hands of the angels are covered in a veil much like that which the priest holds while blessing with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance during Benediction.
The initials to the right of Jesus’ head are the Greek initials for “Jesus Christ”. The child Jesus is depicted not as an infant, but as a “miniature adult”, signifying Christ’s divinity and His humanity. Mary’s hands hold the child Jesus possessively and lovingly, because she is his Mother. She, too, is our loving Mother. Her hand does not clutch the hands of Jesus’ tightly, but remains open, inviting us to her son, Jesus. Jesus’ hands are turned downward, a symbol of His placing the Graces of Redemption in her hands. These Graces are available to any and to all who implore her for them through prayer.
Jesus’ sandal falling from his foot is indicative of the haste with which he has run to her in fear, gazing at the angels who hold the instruments of his Passion and death. The loose sandal also represents Christ’s divine nature, untied from the bounds of earth. The sandal that remains secure is symbolic of His human nature.
Explanation from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish