Read the story of Our Lady Help of Christians
Don Bosco wrote:“il titolo di Auxilium Christianorum attribuito all’Augusta Madre del Salvatore non è cosa nuova nella Chiesa di Gesù Cristo. Maria fu salutata aiuto dei Cristiani fin dai primi tempi del Cristianesimo”.
This title spread easily especially after the Christian victory over the Turks which took place in the waters of Lepanto near the Curzolari islands on 7 October 1572, the first Sunday of October, under the pontificate of St. Pius V (1566-1572), to the cry of "Long live Mary!”. The holy pontiff wanted to add the beautiful invocation to the Loreto litanies:Auxilium Christianorum, now pro nobis(Help of Christians, pray for us).
devotion to theAuxilium Christianorumit was strengthened after the second great victory over the Turks in Vienna, on July 12, 1683, obtained by the King of Poland John III Sobieski, who announced it to Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689), with the words:"Come, see, Maria Vicit"(I came, I saw, Maria won). He was born then in Germany, in Munich, the first Association in honor ofMary Help of Christiansto commemorate the liberation of Vienna.
Napoleon, after the defeat of Leipzig (October 19, 1813), freed Pius VII (1800-1823), on March 10, 1814, but gave a secret order that the journey be slow in the hope of being able to resist the allies and therefore still stop the Pope, but Paris surrendered on March 30, 1814 and the next day the enemy sovereigns entered. Pius VII, in the midst of great celebrations, the quivering enthusiasm and the immense rejoicing of the people, returned to Rome and returned to the Papal throne on May 24, 1814 and the following year, grateful for the visible help of the Madonna, he instituted the party ofMary Help of Christiansfor Rome and the other papal states.
Now the devotion toHelperit is spread all over the world and its feast is celebrated in many countries.
In the Marian devotion of Don Bosco, the title“Auxilium Christianorum”,it overlaps, without marking substitution or attenuation, the previous titles with which he invoked the Madonna, especially the Immaculate which marked the beginning of his Providential Work. We have a first memory of it in a little card from 1849, the year of the flight of Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878) from Rome in Gaeta, on which he wrote the invocation:“O Immaculate Virgin, you who brought victory over all heresies, come now to our aid: we wholeheartedly resort to you. Auxilium Christianorum now pro nobis”.
Until 1862 Don Bosco's action towardsHelperit was not constant and general: he announced it on May 24, 1862 in the"Good night", as stated in the Biographical Memoirs. One Saturday in the month of December, perhaps the 6th of 1862, Don Bosco said to the cleric Albera, the future Rector Major:“la nostra chiesa è troppo piccola …. ne fabbricheremo un’altra più bella, più grande, che sia magnifica, le daremo il titolo Chiesa di Maria Ausiliatrice”.
On 8 December 1862 Don Bosco declared to the cleric Cagliero, later cardinal, the reason for his devotion to the Madonna under the title of Mary Help of Christians:“Up until now we have celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception with solemnity and pomp…But Our Lady wants us to honor her under the title of Mary Help of Christians: times are so sad that we need the Blessed Virgin. help us to keep the Christian faith”.
Because of the title "Mary Help of Christians” dato da Don Bosco al Tempio, le autorità municipali di Torino fecero difficoltà per l’approvazione del progetto della costruzione. Ma la chiesa ebbe il titolo di Maria SS. Ausiliatrice. Don Bosco non rinunziava a quel titolo, perché era quello voluto dalla Madonna.
On June 9, 1868, the Temple was consecrated toMary Help of Christiansin Turin. Don Bosco and theHelperare now two inseparable names. L'Helper si è servita di Don Bosco per operare numerosissimi e strepitosi miracoli, per concedere al mondo infinite grazie.
The "life of Don Bosco" is full of them, there are many books that narrate moving episodes of Mary's goodness to all kinds of people, there is the"Baptismo Salesian”, which reports every month the graces, the favors bestowed by theHelper, who dispenses her gifts especially in the Shrine, which she wanted in Turin, of which she had told Don Bosco in a vision:“Hic domus mea, Hinc gloria mea – Here is my home, hence my glory”.
Don Bosco was not satisfied with spreading the devotion toHelperwith the word, the press, the wonders. He got from Dad Leo XIII that the"Blessing of Mary Help of Christians",which he had been effectively imparting for some time, was approved: by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on May 18, 1878, the formula of the"blessing"was included in the Roman Ritual.
Finally Don Bosco, as a monument of perennial gratitude for the singular favors received, he founded the“Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians”. “Recourse to Mary Help of Christians– he wrote in 1887 –va aumentando ogni dì tra il popolo fedele e porge motivo a pronunciare che tempo verrà, in cui ogni buon cristiano, insieme con la devozione al SS. Sacramento e al Sacro Cuore di Gesù, si farà un vanto di professare una devozione tenerissima a Maria Ausiliatrice”.
Whole continents and nations have Mary Help of Christians as their heavenly Patroness: Catholic Australia since 1844, China since 1924, Argentina since 1949, Poland since the first decades of the 1800s; widespread and ancient is the devotion in the countries of Eastern Europe.
In the beautiful Turin basilica named after her, there is the beautiful and majestic painting, commissioned by the founder himself, which represents the Help of Christians with the scepter of command and with the Child in her arms, she is surrounded by the Apostles and Evangelists and is suspended on a cloud; in the background on land, the Sanctuary and the Oratory as it appeared in 1868, the year of the execution of the work by the painter Tommaso Lorenzone.
Preghiera a Maria Ausiliatrice
(composed by St. John Bosco)
O Mary, Powerful Virgin:
Tu, grande e illustre difesa della Chiesa.
You admirable help of Christians.
Thou terrible as an army arrayed for battle,
You who single-handedly destroyed all the heresies of the world,
You in distress, in struggles, in needs defend us from the enemy
and at the hour of death welcome us into Paradise.