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Mary Help of Christians in the Philippines

The title Mary Help of Christians was introduced by St. Pope Pius V in the Litany of Our lady of Loreto after the miraculous victory of the Christians against the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.  But it was Don Bosco, who propagated the devotion to Her through his sons, the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Archconfraternity of Mary Help of Christians and other members of the Salesian Family.

Devotion to Mary under the title Help of Christians spread in the Philippines when Pius XI appointed as Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines in 1922, a great Marian devotee and faithful son of Don Bosco, Archbishop William Piani.

According to his secretary, Fr. Louis Ravoire Morrow, SDB, during the 27 years of Archbishop Piani, as Apostolic Delegate , the Archconfraternity of Mary Help of Christians was established in many parishes and a good number of bishops declared mary Help of Christians as the second patroness of their dioceses.

He also spread the devotion to Her under this title through images, novena prayers, uniforms and statues of MHC.  A number of these statues can still be found in many parishes in the Philippines, apparently copies of the original one he had in his Delegation House in Malate, Manila.

A glimpse of Manila cathedral during the pre-war in the early 30’s.  with the consent and in collaboration with the Archbishop of Manila then, Archbishop Michael Doherty (1916-1949), a statue of MHC was enthroned in Manila Cathedral in the first chapel alongside the right lateral nave and which was dedicated to her.

This statue of Mary Help of Christians was believed to have been the one venerated in the Chapel dedicated to Her sometime in 1920s.

However, when the 2nd World War broke out, the said statue was brought for safety from bombing to Our Lady of Loreto Church in Sampaloc, Manila in 1942.

Then, in 1985the parish of Mary Help of Christians was proclaimed by CBCP as a National Shrine.

Eventually, the historical statues of MHC which was in Our Lady of Loreto, Sampaloc, was solemnly transferred to Her Shrine on September 4, 1994.

Today, February 20, 2016, that is to say, seventy four years after the statue of MHC was taken away from the Cathedral in 1942, a new statue of hers is being enthroned in the same Chapel, dedicated to Her since the early 1920s.

The Salesians of Don Bosco together with all the members of the Salesian family are immensely grateful to His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle and to his Chancellor and Rector of manila Cathedral, Fr. Reginald Malicdem for accepting to bring back Mary Help of Christians to be venerated once more in the very heart of Manila.  Maraming, maraming salamat po!!!

As of 2016, there are 15 parishes, 2 quasi-parishes, 20 chapels and 3 diocesan seminaries, all over the Philippines that are confirmed to be officially named after and dedicated to MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS as their patroness.

This day will be remembered by the Salesians and by the members of the Salesian Family, not only as a historical event in the Annals of the Society of St. John Bosco in the Philippine Province but also as a day of renewal to their commitment to continue and intensify more their fervor in propagating the devotion to Mary Help of Christians, initiated in the very heart of Manila by their Salesian Apostolic Delegate almost a century ago, Archbishop William Piani, SDB.