Cardinal Vincent Nichols has taken possession of his titular church in Rome – Sant’Alfonso de’Liguori all’Esquilino.
The church is dedicated to its patron, Saint Alphonsus – founder of the Redemptorists.
Since 1865 it has been home to the famous icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
On Thursday, 2 October, in a special Mass to mark the occasion, the Cardinal revealed his “providential” connections with the church and shrine.
Cardinal Nichols, since his younger days, has nurtured a devotion to Our Lady of Unfailing Help – a copy of the icon hung in the family home. He now has an icon in his office in Archbishop’s House and one newly installed in Westminster Cathedral.
“This icon opens for us something of the depth of God, something of the greatness of God. Here we see the angels, the messengers of God himself, bringing forward the symbols of the Lord’s passion and death. They bring them forward with dignity and majesty. This is not random evil, arbitrary pain, pointless suffering. No, they are being carried towards Jesus for his willing acceptance and his highest purpose.
“In their light we begin to glimpse that he is no ordinary child who will come to a sad end, but he is fully of God, uniquely one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the divine nature. Yet is he also fully one of us. He is truly God and truly man and, through the instruments of his Passion, will transform our fallen mortal nature into an image of his own divine nature.
“This icon, then, helps us to find our place in God’s great mystery of salvation. It draws us to see the almost incredible: that through our suffering and pain, whatever form it may take, we can become part of this great work of Jesus.
“We can unite our sufferings with his and offer them to the Father. They can become a moment, even a long moment, of deep achievement for through our suffering we can be shaped more deeply for God’s purpose, purified for his desire. And that desire, that purpose is that we will be drawn fully into his presence and totally filled with his light and joy. As we are emptied of self, we are ready to be filled with God.
“Somehow this is what the depth of this icon whispers to me.”
You can download the full text of the Cardinal’s homily by using the link to the right of this page.