Our Lady of Perpetual Help Icon
Names by Rev. Joseph Manton, C.S.S.R.
In ancient times when Greek artists painted a persons image, they frequently also wrote the name of the person on the painting itself. That is why on the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help there is inscribed, in a type of shorthand, "The Archangel Gabriel." [to the right of Mary's crown just above angel] As we know, Gabriel was God's most privileged messenger, the first to salute Mary as "full of grace" and "blessed among women." His opposite number, on the other side of the picture, [to the left of Mary's crown just above the angel] is identified as "The Archangel Michael," because for us to retain the little grace we have, we have need of this heavenly protector against the powers of darkness, those evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking our ruin.
There is also written, in large letters that flank Mary's crown, "Mother of God." [Above the previous mentioned letters on either side of the crown] This, Mary's Divine Motherhood, is the single strong pedastal on which all our devotion and all our invocation stand. She is a mother, and therefore human, and will be sympathetic with our human problems. But she is also the Mother of God, and therefore she has not only pity but also power! If any good mother has influences with any good son, what will not be the influence of the Best of Mothers with the Best of Sons? And that is why we come to her, sinful and sorrowful.
Mary can intercede for us but she cannot forgive our sins. She can do better than that - she can take us to her Son, and that is why it is also written in the Picture, above the Infant's head, "Jesus Christ." [just to the right of the Infant Jesus' head in small letters]
There was a kindergarten nun once, who was showing the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to her class. "And what is the name of the Child in Mary's arm?! The very small boy answered "Jesus." "Good, but what is His last name?" "Mercy," said the lad, as though everybody knew that. "Where did you get that?" asked the nun. "Well, we always say, 'My Jesus Mercy,' don't we?"