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Wednesday, 24 October 2018
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Our Lady Help of Christians

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Patroness of Australia and New Zealand, this statue of Mary, Help of Christians, stands in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia. It was donated in the 19th century. The Cathedral was dedicated in her honour by Irish priest Fr. John Therry, who arrived in Sydney in 1820 and who was responsible for the planning and initial construction of the Cathedral.

The feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was instituted by Pius VII. By order of Napoleon 1, Pius VII was arrested in 1808, and detained a prisoner for three years at Savona and at Fontainebleau. In 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was set free. The people crowded the streets of Rome to catch a glimpse of the venerable pontiff who had so bravely withstood the threats of Napoleon. He entered Rome, 24th May, 1814, and was enthusiastically welcomed. In 1815, to give thanks to God and Our Lady he instituted for the Papal States the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be celebrated on  24th May, the anniversary of his first return. The feast is celebrated with great splendour in the churches of the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris.

St. Don Bosco, founder of the Salesian Congregation, in 1868 dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians, the mother church of his congregation at Turin. The Salesian Fathers have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments throughout the world.