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The Blessed Virgin Mary has many titles of devotion, including Mary, Help of Christians celebrated annually on May 24The Feast of Mary, Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24. The tradition of this devotion goes back to 1571, when the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary, Help of Christians when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7,1571. For this reason, this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573, Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islam.

"Mary, Help!"

Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna, but a  great victory occurred thanks to Mary, Help of Christians:

On September 8, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy Rosary.

The Rogue Napoleon

In 1809, Napoleon's men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII, and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Holy Father vowed to God that, if he were restored to the Roman See, he would institute a special feast in honor of Mary. Military reverses forced Napoleon to release the Pope, and on May 24, 1814, Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later, the Pope decreed that the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians was to be kept on May 24.

Saint John Bosco

Saint John Bosco (1815 - 1888) was a dynamic priest who founded the Salesian Order in the 19th century in Italy. His many prophetic dreams, beginning at age nine, guided his ministry and gave insights on future events.

On May 14, 1862, John Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days. In his dream, the  Pope of those days anchors the 'ship' of the Church between two pillars, one with a statue of Mary (Auxilium Christianorum or "Help of Christians") and the other with a large Eucharistic Host.

Saint John Bosco wrote about his congregation, the Salesians:  "The principal objective is to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary, Help of Christians. This title seems to please the august Queen of Heaven very much."

The Salesian Sisters of Saint John Bosco or Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, are the sister order of the Salesians of John Bosco.

Saint John Bosco, himself, on June 9, 1868, dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians, the mother church of his congregation at Turin in Italy. The Salesian Fathers and their Sisters have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments.


© Original article published on the Catholic News Agency website, a news service from the Eternal Word Television Network: Global Catholic Network. All rights reserved.

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