Taking the 9 days between Ascension and Pentecost as an example, many Christians like to make a ‘novena’ or nine days of prayer. With one heart all the apostles joined constantly in prayer, together with some women including Mary the Mother of Jesus(Acts 1:14).

The novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help can be made on nine consecutive days or on one day each week for nine weeks, or one can make a ‘perpetual’ novena, i.e., one day a week every week.

The novena can be made in Church with others, at home with the family or entirely alone. It helps to have an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help nearby, to gaze at it, allowing it to speak to us and to reverence it.


Petitions and thanksgivings are read out and prayed for at Novena every Thursday at 7.00PM at Holy Redeemer (box at back of church).

What is an Icon?

The word ‘icon’ means ‘image’, and the story of icons in the Christian Church is a story of learning to gaze into the mystery of God.

A great deal of religious art can be merely decorative. It expresses the religious imagination of the artist and it is often charged with human emotions. Some of it is very precious to us. The icon, however, is a window through which we glimpse another world – the world of God. In the icon we are brought into the presence of the holy person or incident pictured; we ‘see’ the gospel before our eyes and the icon speaks to us.

The icon is the occasion of a sort of revelation – in line and colour – of the kingdom of God. Hence the very icon itself is a sacred reality.

To paint an icon is a religious activity requiring detailed discipline; to pray before an icon means to be drawn into some aspect of the mystery of God-with-us; to let an icon speak to us requires a depth of silence and purity of heart which can only come from the Spirit. When we pray with icons we begin to acquire the characteristics which the icons symbolize.

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help belongs to the tradition of icons of the Passion dating from 14th century Serbia. The two angels hold the instruments of the Passion and the Infant Christ turns his head to look at them with astonishment. In fear, he seeks refuge with his mother whose eyes speak of the sufferings to come.

The original icon which we now call ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help’ is in the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome. Its history is shrouded in obscurity, but it is known to have come from the island of Crete over 500 years ago. It arrived in Rome in 1499 and eventually was installed in the Church of St. Matthew.

When that Church was destroyed in 1798 the icon passed into the care of the Augustinians. It was only when another church – the present church of St. Alphonsus – was built near the site of the old St. Matthew’s that the Pope requested that the icon is returned to its original site. In 1866, Pope Pius IX, gave the icon into the care of the Redemptorists with the words make her known to the world.

Today Our Lady of Perpetual Help is one of the best-loved icons of Our Lady.


The Thursday Novena Service:

Entrance and enthronement of the Icon with a hymn and incense (All stand)


Leader: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
All: And also with you.


Leader: Brothers and sisters, we come together as a Christian family to honour God our Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ; we also wish to reverence Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother of Perpetual Help.
All: We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
Leader: Let us pray.
All: Loving Father,
we thank you for the example of faith and goodness which you give us in every age through your saints.
We thank you for Mary, ever ready to help us.
May we, like her, always seek to do your will
and with her come into the glory of your Kingdom,
through your Son Jesus Christ,
who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever. Amen

Scripture reading

(The reading is followed by a period of silence)

Homily or bible sharing on the reading

Petitions announced (All kneel)

Petitions and thanksgivings are read out and prayed for at Novena (box at back of church)

Novena prayer (to be said by all)

Mother of Perpetual Help,
you comforted Jesus your Son
as he faced his passion.
We are now your children,
called to follow Jesus
in his suffering, death and rising to new life.
Comfort us too and help us
so to discover the power of his Spirit
that we may build up his kingdom among us.
When he comes again in glory,
may we celebrate with joy
the fullness of life with all God’s family
for ever and ever. Amen.

Litany of our Mother of Perpetual Help

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son,
Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Mary, model of faith, Pray for us.
Mary, example of hope, Pray for us.
Mary, pattern of love, Pray for us.
Hope of the poor, Pray for us.
Strength of the gentle, Pray for us.
Comfort of those who mourn, Pray for us.
Longing of those who
hunger and thirst for justice, Pray for us.
Consolation of the merciful, Pray for us.
Radiance of the pure in heart, Pray for us.
Encouragement of the
peacemakers, Pray for us
Support of the persecuted, Pray for us.
Mother of the Church, Pray for us,
Mother of our parish, Pray for us.
Mother of our family, Pray for us.
Mother of our children, Pray for us.
Mother of parents, Pray for us.
Mother of priests and deacons, Pray for us.
Mother of religious men
and women, Pray for us.
Mother of Perpetual Help, Pray for us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Leader: Let us pray.
All: Loving Lord Jesus,
you have given us to venerate
the icon of your most Blessed Mother
under the special title of Perpetual Help;
graciously grant
that amidst all the changes
of our journey through life,
we may be so defended by the continual protection
of the same Immaculate ever-Virgin Mary
that we may deserve to obtain
the rewards of your eternal redemption,
who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
world without end. Amen.

Blessing of the sick

Leader: Let us pray.

Father, we bring before you all who are sick, in mind or body, especially those for whom we now pray . . . Bless all who are heavily burdened so that purified by their sufferings they may find themselves healed by your mercy, through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: We thank you for the healing ministry of Jesus still present in the Church. We pray for all those here present who are in need of healing in mind or body.

All: May they know the power of his healing touch.

Leader: We bring before you all the sick who have asked our prayers, and we pray for all who labour and are heavily burdened.

All: May they find their rest in Jesus your Son.

Leader: We pray especially for those whose sickness will lead them into the mystery of death.

All: May they find peace in him who lives for ever with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Leader (extending the right hand over the congregation):

May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
that he may defend you;
within you that he may sustain you;
before you that he may lead you;
behind you that he may protect you;
above you that he may bless you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen.

Reverence the Icon

(The Magnificat may be sung while the icon is incensed.)

Prayer of Blessing (All stand)

The Son of God was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary to redeem the human race. May you be enriched with his blessings. Amen.

Through Mary, the source of all life has come to you. May her loving care always embrace you. Amen.

You have come as a family to honour Mary on earth. May the Spirit of joy be with you on the way to your eternal home. Amen.

And may Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Final Hymn