Did you know that the Basilica has a chapel dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians? This centuries-old devotion has been frequently invoked by the faithful for preservation during desperate battles, resulting in miraculous victories. Today, the faithful look to Mary under this title for guidance and protection, requesting her assistance. In this post, we invite you to reflect on a prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians and virtually tour the chapel that honors this devotion at the Basilica!
About the Chapel
The Mary, Help of Christians Chapel depicts the Virgin on a globe encircled by clouds, representing the earth. She wears a crown and holds a scepter and the Child Jesus, whose outstretched arms reach out to all of humanity. The statue of Mary, as well as the six adoring angels flanking the statue are made of Botticino marble.
The altar reredos depicts Pope (Blessed) Pius IX, who approved the Salesian rule, standing with a family. To the right are Saints Dominic Savio, standing next to his mentor, John Bosco; Mary Mazzarello, co-founder of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians; and Blessed Laura Vicuña.
On the Botticino altar frontal is the Salesian coat of arms. A dark blue Venetian glass mosaic by Peter Recker fills the apse, featuring: a triangle symbolizing the Trinity, the descending right hand of God the Father, and seven rays of fire to symbolize the Holy Spirit. Surrounding the head of Mary are twelve gold stars, representing the tribes of Israel. The bas-relief to the left of the inner arch shows St. Peter’s Basilica, the Mother Church of our Faith; to the right is the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, Turin, Italy, the home of the Salesians.
The arch above the chapel is inscribed with the following text:
“We fly to your protection o holy mother of God
Deliver us from all dangers O Blessed Virgin.”
Take the Virtual Tour
Explore the Chapel in immersive 360° below!
Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians
The faithful can draw strength from the following prayer featured in the chapel:
Mary, Help of Christians,
you listen with a Mother’s love
to all who look for your guidance.
I ask you to keep all those I love
in your tender care.
Give me the strength
to face up to life’s difficulties
and protect me from all spiritual and bodily harm.
Grant me an abundance of love
so that I, too, may be a help to others, sharing with them in their time of need,
and caring for them
in their moments of distress.
The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling
Light a Candle at the Basilica
In honor of Mary, Help of Christians, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper Church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.