Wednesday, today is Novena day at St.Michael's Church, Mahim but the church has been particularly crowded this week on others days too. It is here that thousands flock to observe the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor (OLPS). Recently. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay celebrated the Eucharist and after that released a DVD based on the faith of the thousands who come for prayers to Mahim church.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias releases the DVD on Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at St Michael's Church, Mahim. All Pics/Syed Sameer Abedi
Produced by Mumbai’s Andrea Lavy Pinto, two films - 'Our Lady of Perpetual Succor' and 'Our Lady of Perpetual Help: An icon of love' deal with Mumbai’s devotion and history as well as the nation-wide belief in the miraculous power of the image, respectively.
Film producers Andrea and Lavy Pinto with director Luke Mendes at the stall selling the DVDs at Mahim Church
"I had made a film on Mount Mary's Bandra called 'Mount of Faith' and while promoting that I met the Redemptorists who expressed their desire to make this film. Since October 2014, I have been researching and working on this project. The Redemptorists, a religious congregation were 150 years ago given this image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor and asked to propagate its devotion around the world. To commemorate that the film was made," said Lavy, a captain in the merchant navy.
Fr Joseph Ivel Mendanha, a Redemptorist priest who commissioned the film said, "Film is the best medium to spread the message of what the devotion to OLPS is all about. It's an audio-visual medium which in today's social media age is apt. The film tells the history which not many know and also makes public many testimonies of faith."
Devotees at St Michael's Church gather to hear mass and celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
Lavy, Bandra resident says he was excited to take up the challenge of making another faith documentary. "Being a Mumbaikar I also decided to devote one film to the faith of the lakhs who come to Mahim church. This is the film which will be sold. I got Luke Mendes to direct it while I directed the all-India devotion film which is for private circulation of the Redemptorist community. I've always come to pray to Our Lady here in Mahim, so these films are a way of thanksgiving. It's been a great experience and I feel honoured that my films are the channel to spread the Perpetual Succor devotion."
Mendes, a Mahim resident who directed one of the films said, "This is my first faith documentary. Hearing the testimonies and then choosing the apt ones was awe inspiring. I've always known so many miracles happen but now I was able to see them closely. It's been lessons for life learnt."
A still from the documentary 'Our Lady of Perpertual Succor'
Cardinal Gracias who wished the film takes the devotion to the ends of the Earth said, "It's nice that devotional films are being made. I hope this one spreads the faith far and wide. A Mahim boy myself, from my school days I have attended the novenas. I have come here in moments of important decisions and have experienced the help of Mother Mary."
Fr Simon Borges, Parish Priest of Mahim's St Michael’s Church said, “This year one of our parishioners directed a documentary on OLPS in two parts. The first part is on the history on the devotion to OLPS & the second part is on the devotion at Mahim Church and the Novena Prayers. The DVD is in 5 languages – English, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani and Tamil being sold for Rs 150."
About the devotion:
-The image of OLPS is a celebrated 15th-century Byzantine icon.
-The icon has been in Rome since 1499, and is permanently enshrined in the church of Sant'Alfonso di Liguori.
-The feast day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is celebrated on June 27, with novena devotions held every Wednesday.
Devotion at Mahim Church:
-The weekly Novena services at St Michael's Church Mahim were started in 1948, when Fr Edward Fernandes, a priest in the parish noticed a ritual celebrating Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Belfast, Northern Ireland, during his visit to Europe. He brought with him a picture touched to the original icon at Rome.
-Devotees believe that visiting the Church on nine consecutive Wednesdays (Novena) will grant their wish.