When we place ourselves before an icon in an attitude of prayer and reflection, we’re invited into a spiritual space of divine energy. The face of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has this effect on those who pray before her. Her penetrating gaze tends to pull us into the sacred space as she invites us to delve deeply into the mystery of the living Christ.
This icon presents the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection and the effects these mysteries have on us. It’s about the mystery of Christ in our midst.
People with a strong devotion to Mary through this icon have had many powerful experiences, including cures and answered prayers. These events help show the icon’s mystical qualities. It is through these experiences that the title “miraculous” was attached to this icon down to the present day. Its official title is the Miraculous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. What makes an icon “miraculous” is the veneration bestowed upon the image by the faith and devotion of the community.
Thus the icon is more than a picture or image used for religious decoration. Rather, it not only inspires spiritual thoughts and feelings but also engages all who look upon her to a level beyond the ordinary experience of piety. It is in this space of devotion that the icon becomes the vehicle for God’s presence to the one in prayer before it. For it is said about an icon that it is a place to encounter God.
The icon is an efficacious sign of a real presence because it is a sacramental. Icons become a great means of holiness because of the ritual blessing and the veneration of the image. This allows for the experience of the miraculous interventions and favors bestowed upon those who pray in the presence of an icon.
The process of unlocking the miraculous dimension of the icon is discovered through contemplative prayer. Through the prayer practice of gazing, we enable ourselves to step from our regular routine and place ourselves in a posture of silent prayer. Icons are created to give us the opportunity to enter into the space of the holy. Mary’s gaze draws us into the icon, enabling us to give ourselves to the divine energy contained therein. It is in this space we encounter the miraculous experience of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.