HISTORY OF THE DEVOTION of Mother Mary - St.Micheal's chruch (Mahim ) Mumbai
The devotion to the picture of Our Lady of perpetual Succour is of very ancient origin. It was first venerated in the island of Crete near Greece from whence it was carried to italy and placed in the Church of St.Mathew in Apostle in Rome between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St.John Lateran then in charge of the Augustinian Brothers. The Madonna in the picture, it would appear, had called herself, "Holy Mary of Perpetual Succour", while in Crete it was known as "Our Lady of the Angels". This was in 1499, it seems to have been painted about the year 1455 or even earlier, and it was restored or re-painted in the 19th Century , making it appear as it is at present.
In 1798 the Church of St.Mathew was destroyed and the Picture passed into oblivion till the year 1866 when it came into the hands of the Redemptorists at the express command of Pope Pius IX. Since then the Redemptorist Fathers have been the propagators of the devotion of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour wherever they preach retreats and Missions.
In India, however, the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is more ancient than the origin of the Redemptorist Fathers. Already in the 16th Century we find a Church constructed and a village named after our lady of perpetual succour in Goa; and in 1595 a church was dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Manori, in the Archdiocese of Bombay. Judging from the prayers of the older people of these places one is led to conclude that this devotion was deeply rooted in our elders from very ancient times.
It can not , hoe ever be denied that the advent of the redemptorist Fathers in India gave a fresh impetus to this devotion; and the Chruch of Michael's Mahim, may be considered as the pivotal point from which it has spread all over the East, far east , middle east and even Africa . The origin of this devotion at this church clearly indicates the workings of Divine Providence in giving this great boon to the city.
In the year 1948, Fr. Edward placidus Fernandes returning from a trip to Europe , and seeing the wonderful devotion to our lady of Perpetual succour at Belfast , Ireland brought with him a picture touched to the original Picture at Rome. On the 8th of September , 1948, the Birthday of our Lady - which happened to be a Wednesday that year - after a triduum of preparation by the Redemptorist Father the first Novena services were held in the Church of St. Michael's Mahim , of which Fr. Fernandes was the vicar. Only two services were held by every Wednesday and it took three months before the devotion could take deep roots among the people. It was a very modest beginning without any pretence to citywide publicity or patronage. Msgr. Eddie Fernandes left Mahim in June 1950,but not before the Lord and the good mother had shown him the fruit of his endeavours to make her better known and loved for so rapidly had the devotion captured the enthusiasm of the people that in a sort time the services not only increased in number but the crowds that attended them far exceeded the good priest's sanguine expectations.
Today from 8:30 in the morning to 10:30 at night the unceasing streams of devotees for the thirteen services held in English, Konkani, Marathi, Tamil & Hindi and between these, acts of devotions, more than testify to the popularity of the devotion among our good people; and while in the course of years many other churches in Bombay have adopted this devotion for the convenience of their respective flocks, the crowds at Mahim show no sign of decrease.
To even a casual observe it will not be a surprise to see Our blessed Mother reward the faith of those who visit her shrine with singular favours; for people of all communities and creeds, all walks of life, all ages, all aliments and all needs find their way to the devotions proclaiming the universal Fatherhood of God and the Motherhood of our blessed Lady - and that at great inconvenience and sacrifice.
And from the Church of Mahim the devotion has spead across Continents and Oceans-her devout clients carrying with them fond recollections of the benefits they have received and in their own way proclaiming her goodness to their other needy brethren. Thus making the church at Mahim the center from whence radiates the warmth and light of this devotion, making the Mother of God really a Mother of Perpetual Succour to all.