(ANS - Madrid) - Celebrations in honor of Mary Help of Christians have been going on across all five continents for days now. Wherever there is a Salesian house there are activities that fill everyone's heart with joy and gratitude towards Don Bosco's Madonna. Sporting events, games for the little ones, Masses, processions, floral offerings to Mary Help of Christians, cultural activities, and more. All because Mary Help of Christians is ever more present.
In May, the Salesian Family lives a month of celebrations and devotion to Mary, "Help of Christians", which Don Bosco set at the foundation of his work right from the beginning. When the little Giovanni Bosco was just 9 years old he dreamed of the Madonna who was already indicating his vocation to him and that he would become a priest. That was how it all began. But later, in 1860, Our Lady spoke to him again in another dream and told him that she wanted to be honored with the title of "Help of Christians" and showed him the place in Turin where a temple dedicated to her would be built. Today there is, in fact, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which cost Don Bosco so much effort, but which was completed in only four years and was consecrated on 9 June 1868.
Devotion to Mary Help of Christians is associated with Don Bosco and the Salesians as the saint of Turin promoted this Marian invocation with phrases such as "It was not me; it was the Virgin Help of Christians who saved you" or "She did it all" . However, the recognition of Mary Help of Christians is full of curiosities. In fact, the title of Help of Christians is in itself rather ancient. It derives from the first Greek Christians who called his Virgin Mary "Boetéia" which means "She who brings help from Heaven". Mary Help of Christians is considered fundamental in many important battles, such as Lepanto and Vienna, or when in the seventeenth century the Catholics of southern Germany were not invaded by Protestants.
Another curious fact is the reason for the May 24th celebration: Pope Pius VII, after being imprisoned by Napoleon, thanks to the intervention of Mary, was freed. Pius VII arrived in Rome on May 24 and so he decided that this day would be dedicated to thank Mary Help of Christians.
And ... Did you know that Mary Help of Christians is the Patroness of China? Devotion to the Holy Virgin dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century and in Shanghai there is the Sheshan Shrine, which is a reference point for venerating Mary Help of Christians.
- Maria Ausiliatrice