History of the Devotion to Mary Help
The first who called the Virgin Mary with the title “Help of Christians” was St. John Chrysostom in Constantinople in the year 345, he says: “You, Mary, are very powerful help of God”.
San Sabas in 532 narrates that in the East was an image of the Virgin was called “Help of the Sick”, because with her many healings did work.
St. John Damascene in 749 was the first to spread the prayer: “Mary Help of Christians, pray for us.” And again: the virgin is “auxiliadora to avoid evils and dangers and helper for salvation”.
In Ukraine, Russia, the feast of Mary Help of Christians celebrated on October 1 since 1030, in that year he freed the city from invasion of terrible pagan tribe of barbarians.
In 1572, Pope St. Pius V ordered throughout the Catholic world prayer in the litanies the invocation “Mary Help of Christians, pray for us” because in that year Our Lady fought prodigiously in the battle of lepanto the whole Christianity that came to be destroyed by a Mohammedan army of 282 ships and 88,000 soldiers.
In 1600 Catholics in southern Germany made a promise to the Virgin of honor with the title of auxiliadora if he saved them from the invasion of Protestants and made the terrible war 30 years ended. The Mother of God gave them both favors and soon had more than 70 chapels with the title of Mary Help of Christians.
In 1683 the Catholics to get immense victory in Vienna against the enemies of religion, founded the Association of Mary Help, which exists today in over 60 countries.
In 1814, Pope Pius VII, prisoner of General Napoleon, the Virgin promised that the day came to Rome released, the feast of Mary Help declared. Unexpectedly, the pontiff was free, and arrived in Rome on May 24. Since then he was declared May 24 as the day of Mary Help of Christians.
In 1860 the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. John Bosco and says he wants to be honored with the title of “Help”, and points to the site to build it in Turin, Italy, a temple.
He started temple work with its three coins twenty cents each, but so many and so great miracles that Mary Help of Christians began to obtain for his devotees, who in just four years the Great Basilica was completed. The Saint used to say: “Every brick of this temple corresponds to a miracle of the Blessed Virgin”, from that Shrine begins to spread across the world devotion to Mary under the title of Help of Christians.
The name Help was given already in 1030 the Virgin Mary in Ukraine (Russia), for liberating that region of the invasion of the pagan tribes. Since then in Ukraine is celebrated every year the feast of Mary Help of Christians on October 1.
There is evidence that by the year 1558 was already in the litanies that are accustomed to recite the sanctuary of Loreto Italy.
This title was strong before the invasion of the Turks in 1571 where St. Pius V invoked it as Mary Auxiliadota Christian or Catholic princes of Germany faithful to Catholicism against the Protestant thesis or against the Turkish invasions of Vienna in the XVII century or even as a protective hand against the vagaries of Napoleon Bonaparte took the Pope Pius VII into exile, and his release in 1814 wanted to institute in his May 24 feast.
But it certainly was St. John Bosco, the saint of Mary Help with this Marian devotion champion and found the best springboard for the development and popularity, “It was not me, was the Mary Help of Christians who saved you” .. . “Every brick of this church – was referring to the great Basilica started in your gift 1863 – is a grace of the Virgin Mary” …
But it will be exactly in 1862, in full maturity of Don Bosco, when he makes the definitive Marian choice: Help. “Our Lady wants us to honor her with the title of Help of Christians: the times are so ominous that we need for the Virgin to help us preserve and defend the Christian faith”.
Since that date the title of Help appears in the life of Don Bosco and his work as “Central and synthesizer”. The Help is the very vision that Don Bosco is Mary. The Gospel reading that Mary, the experience of his own life and that of his young Salesians, and his ecclesial experience do you perceive Mary as “Help the People of God”.
In 1863 Don Bosco begins the construction of the church in Turin. All their capital was forty cents, and that was the first payment made to the constructor. Five years later, on June 9, 1868, it took place the consecration of the temple. What surprised Don Bosco first and then the whole world was that Mary Help of Christians had built his own house, to radiate from there your patronage. Don Bosco will say: “There is a brick not a sign of grace.”
Today, Salesians and Salesian, faithful to the spirit of its founders and through the various works bearing at hand continue to propose as an example, protection and encouragement in the evangelization of peoples the help that comes from Santa Maria.