Today is a big feast in Baclaran, where the Redemptorist shrine to the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is venerated.
The Christ Child has run to his mother for comfort, frightened by the vision of two angels showing him the grisly manner how he was going to be killed. The specter completely terrifies him that in his haste to seek his mother, he almost loses his right sandal. See how tightly the child clings to his mother’s thumb, entirely dependent on her for protection. Mary holds him securely in her arms but her eyes are focused squarely on us, a reminder of the gravity of the sacrifice her son was performing on our behalf.
How millions of Filipinos show reverence to a 700 year old icon that purportedly originated in Crete is a mystery. Every Wednesday, the Church in Baclaran is packed, as in hundreds of other shrines all over the country where supplicants in a blighted land appeal for her perpetual help.
The icon is my reply to those who attack the Catholic Church for “worshipping” Mary. The Cretan artist successfully depicted a secular scene that does not impart any divinity towards Mary. The case rests with this image.