Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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Please read the latest information about the great moments of our religious life.

Video Raises Awareness and Encourages Prayer the for Persecuted Church

Father Scottston Brentwood - Tuesday, March 17, 2015


PHILADELPHIA, March 13, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- With news of the martyrdom of 21 Christians by fundamentalist Muslims in Egypt still fresh in their minds, those in the English-speaking world might be relieved to see a new video that asks for prayers for the persecuted Church.

The five-minute "Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlUwevwWREY

  which has received more than five hundred views in its first week, publicizes the shameful persecution of Christians throughout the world and asks its viewers to pray a special litany along with it.

"As Christians, we cannot stand idly by while our fellow Christians are being persecuted for their faith around the world," said Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., vocation director for the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in the United States.

"The courage of these martyrs is nothing less than heroic," he added. "Even children have refused to give up their faith in the face of death. Since we don't often hear about these atrocities through the media, we must make known what is happening."

Fr. Joseph added that making the video is part of the Order's ministry to free captives who are in danger of losing their faith, which has been the core of their charism, or purpose, since it's founding in 1218 in Spain.

The video does not contain graphic violence, but features photos of children and families in refugee camps as well as people in the Middle East praying in churches. The video notes the severe persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and other parts of the world, calling it a grave injustice.

The video recalls the words of Christ, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..." and ties the modern persecutions with the ancient martyrdom of Christians in the Coliseum.

An area that was home to Abraham and other patriarchs of the faith, Iraq, for example, has become a battleground for competing forces. Since 2003, about one million Assyrian Christians, for example, have been forced to become refugees inside and outside of Iraq.

The prayer featured in the video is the Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church, authored by the Order of Mercy.

The Order of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians, has its U.S. motherhouse in Philadelphia, and has friars in four states.










The Gate of Heaven Icon of Our Lady of Mercy

Father Scottston Brentwood - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Icon Also Known As:

The Portal of the Sky

The All-Holy Keeper of the Portal

[Greek: Panagia Portaitissa (pronounced “Pah-nah-YEE-ah Por-tai-TEE-sa”)]

The Iveron Mother of God


History and Symbolism


The Original “Gate of Heaven” Mother of God is a Byzantine Icon of the Virgin Mary which according to some is one of the paintings made by St. Luke the Evangelist. The full history of the famous miraculous image is not known. The Icon is referred to as "Wonderworking" meaning that numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God by persons praying before it. A Byzantine painting is like a door. Seeing a beautiful door is nice, but who wants to just stand there looking at the door? We want to open the door and go beyond it. The door might be attractive or unattractive, but it is only a door, there to lead us into a new world.


Before the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches called “The Great Schism of the year 1054,” the Gate of Heaven Icon of the Mother of God was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the reign of the Emperor Theophilus (829–842), the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian. One of the soldiers struck the Icon with his spear, and immediately blood began to flow from the gashed cheek of the Virgin. The mark is depicted in all copies that have since been painted of this icon. Apparently Our Lady wants man to remember her sorrows and to recall that she is a Mother who understands sorrow and suffering. Shaken by this miracle, the soldier instantly repented, renounced the iconoclast heresy, and entered a monastery.


The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. The widow spent the whole night in vigil, praying before the Icon of the Mother of God. In the morning, according to God’s will, the woman and her son put the holy image into the Mediterranean Sea. To her immense surprise and joy the Icon did not sink but, remaining upright, began to sail westward.

Fleeing persecution, the widow's son left Nicea and went to Mount Athos, Greece where he led a saintly life as a monk to the end of his days. There he recounted the story of the miracle of the bleeding wound, of how his mother had set the holy icon upon the waves, and this story was handed down from one generation of monks to another.


Time passed, and one evening in the year 1004, the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos beheld a pillar of fire, shining upon the sea like the sun and reached to the heavens. The miraculous view lasted several days, while the fathers of the Holy Mountain gathered together, marveling at the sight. Finally, they descended to the edge of the sea, where they beheld the Icon of the Mother of God in the pillar of fire. But when they approached it, the icon moved farther out to sea.


At that time, a Georgian monk named Gabriel was working at the Iveron Monastery. The Mother of God appeared to the fathers of the Holy Mountain and told them that Gabriel alone was worthy to retrieve the holy icon from the sea. At the same time, She appeared to Gabriel and told him, “Enter the sea, and walk out upon the waves with faith, and all will witness my love and mercy for your monastery.” The monks of Mt. Athos found Gabriel and led him down to the sea, chanting hymns, and censing with holy incense. Gabriel walked out upon the water as though upon dry land, took the icon in his arms, and obediently carried it back to shore.


While the monks were celebrating a service of thanksgiving, a cold, sweet spring miraculously gushed forth from the ground where the icon stood. Afterwards, they took the icon to a church and set it down in the sanctuary with great reverence.


However, one of the monks who came to light a lamp the next morning discovered that the icon was no longer where they had left it. In fact, it was hanging on a wall near the entrance gate. The disbelieving monks took it down and returned it to the sanctuary, but the next day the icon was again found at the monastery gate. This miracle recurred several times, until the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Gabriel, saying, “Announce to the brothers that from this day they should not carry me away. For what I desire is not to be protected by you; rather I will overshadow you, both in this life and in the age to come. As long as you see my icon in the monastery, the grace and mercy of my Son shall never be lacking!”


Filled with exceeding joy, the monks erected a small church near the monastery gate to glorify the Most Holy Mother of God and placed the wonderworking icon inside. The holy icon came to be known as the “Iveron Mother of God” and because of its location, in Greek, Portaitissa or “The Keeper of the Portal.” By the grace of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, many miracles have taken place and continue to take place throughout the world.


It is believed that the disappearance of the Iveron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world. Later, the Orthodox Church took over Mt. Athos including the Iveron Monastery where the original Icon resides up to the present time.


This modern copy of the Gate of Heaven Icon was made by a man named Chrysostomos in 1981. Myrrh is miraculously flowing from some copies of it. As also with the case of the Icon of “La Bruna” which became an Icon of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the White Scapular of Our Lady of Mercy was later added on it.

The icon belongs to a family of images of Mary known as Hodegetria (“She who shows ‘The Way’”) after the prototype from Constantinople. In these icons, the Ever Virgin Mary is holding Christ and pointing toward Him, as a guide to God and salvation. Another famous icon based upon Hodegetria is Our Lady of CzÄ™stochowa.


Mary is shown with her head covered with a veil, which drops to her shoulders, according to the tradition of Jewish women of that time. This veil or head covering is red, the color worn by virgins during the time of Christ and to show also Mary’s suffering and acquired holiness. Under her veil her clothing is blue, the color worn by mothers in Palestine, symbolizing the humanity of the Mother of God. Above her head are the letters “MP OY,” an abbreviation of the Greek: “Mater Theos” – the Mother of God. The gold cuffs on her sleeves are fit for a Queen, and indicate her intercession for the people. There are three stars, one on the forehead and one on each shoulder. These stars symbolize her virginity. She was a virgin before, during, and after the Nativity of Christ. The three stars are also a symbol of the Holy Trinity.


The third star may or may not be covered by the figure of the child identified to us as Jesus Christ (abbreviated as IC XC), the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who even as a child is holding the scroll or book of the Gospels, embodying all the wisdom of the true God. His halo contains those three Greek letters meaning “I AM”, testifying to His divinity, and even as an infant His right hand is shown giving a blessing.



1. Orthodox Wiki

2. http://oca.org/saints/lives/2014/09/26/205488-arrival-of-the-iveron-icon-of-the-mother-of-god-in-georgia

3. http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/icon_myrrh_ext.htm

4. http://www.antiochian.org/node/17508

5. http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/icons-of-the-mother-of-god/

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panagia_Portaitissa

7. http://www.baclaranchurch.org/icon.html

[Editor: Daniel James Cruz]


Ave Maris Stella


Hail, thou Star of ocean,

Portal of the sky!

Ever Virgin Mother

Of the Lord most high!


Oh! by Gabriel's Ave,

Uttered long ago,

Eva's name reversing,

Establish peace below.


Break the captives’ fetters;

Light on blindness pour;

All our ills expelling,

Every bliss implore.


Show thyself a Mother;

Offer Him our sighs,

Who for us Incarnate

Did not thee despise.


Virgin of all virgins!

To thy shelter take us:

Gentlest of the gentle!

Chaste and gentle make us.


Still, as on we journey,

Help our weak endeavor;

Till with thee and Jesus

We rejoice forever.


Through the highest heaven,

To the Almighty Three,

Father, Son, and Spirit,

One same glory be.

Litany of Blessed Virgin Mary for the Persecuted Church

Father Scottston Brentwood - Friday, September 12, 2014

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus made it clear to his disciples that they would experience persecution and hatred. He tells us in Matthew 10:22, "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." And again in John,"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... (Jn. 15:20)" Yet despite all of this Scriptural evidence we are often lulled into thinking that persecution and martyrdom for the Faith are things of the past. It takes events such the Arab Spring uprising in Syria and the most recent ISIS brutal jihad in Iraq to wake us up. Even the most lukewarm of Christian now knows that believing does indeed mean hardship and even death to many of our fellow Christians.


What are we do in such a situation? We must return to the Scriptures and the tradition of our Church which tells us that persecution is part of the Christian walk. It is critical that we not stand ideally by while any are suffering injustice, let alone our own fellow Believers. We must make it know that this is a grave injustice and one that we will not tolerate.  Also, we are called to respond to this onslaught by coming together in prayer, fasting, and solidarity with those members of the Body of Christ who are suffering. In true Christian charity, we pray for our persecutors that their eyes may be opened to the Truth.


One of the Order's parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes, has offered an opportunity for the faithful to come together in prayer for the persecuted Church. For seven Sundays, they have organized a holy hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for the Persecuted Church. The faithful come together to adore the Lord and make reparation for the crimes committed against religious freedom and the dignity of the human person.


Please join us in prayer for all involved in these crimes against humanity. We offer this beautiful litany as a fitting prayer for these times:


Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Persecuted Church


Lord, have mercy.                                                               

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.                                                             

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.                                                               

Lord, have mercy.


God our Father in heaven,                                                  

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, redeemer of the world,                                  

Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,                                                             

Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,                                                          

Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,                                                                            

Pray for us.

Holy Mother of God,                                                             

Pray for us.
Queen of the silenced Church,                                            

Pray for us.                                  

Loving Guide of exiles and refugees,                                   

Pray for us.

Mother of the oppressed and those who have disappeared,

Pray for us.

Help of the exploited,                                                             

Pray for us.

Consoler of the victims of unbridled capitalism,                     

Pray for us.

Refuge of the forgotten in wealthy nations,                            

Pray for us.

Hope of those in shelters,                                                       

Pray for us.

Stare of the outcast and victims of racism,                             

Pray for us.

Eye that never sleeps,                                                             

Pray for us.

Indestructible wall against heresy,                                           

Pray for us.

Mother and help of the wayward,                                             

Pray for us.

Queen of the afflicted,                                                              

Pray for us.

Redemptress of the repudiated,                                               

Pray for us.

Help of Christians,                                                                    

Pray for us.

Queen of Confessors,                                                               

Pray for us.

Queen of Apostles,                                                                   

Pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs,                                                                     

Pray for us.


Option A

Through the blood of the Martyrs,                                            Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the exile of confessors,                                              Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the chains of the imprisoned,                                     Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the violence done to the innocent,                             Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the tears of the persecuted,                                       Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the trials against your saints,                                     Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the defamations uttered against your Vicar,              Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the insults against bishops,                                        Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the slander against priests and religious,                   Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the accusations against your Bride,                           Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.
Through the torture accepted for your glory,                             Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through locked and destroyed churches,                                 Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through plundered altars,                                                         Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through moral restrictions and forced confessions,                  Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.


Option B

From the hatred of apostates,                                                     Lord, free your Church.

From the terrorism of atheists,                                                    Lord, free your Church.

From the error of materialism,                                                     Lord, free your Church.

From classism and racism,                                                          Lord, free your Church.

From all slavery,                                                                           Lord, free your Church.

From false prophets,                                                                    Lord, free your Church.

From the poison that invades peoples minds,                              Lord, free your Church.

From sacrilege against Consecrated persons,                             Lord, free your Church.

From atheistic education,                                                             Lord, free your Church.

From war against religion,                                                            Lord, free your Church.

From deprivation of freedom,                                                       Lord, free your Church.

From our indifference,                                                                  Lord, free your Church.

From confusion of ideas,                                                              Lord, free your Church.


Option C

For all who are persecutors,                                                         Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who have betrayed you,                                                    Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who are deceived by error,                                                Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who have no faith in you,                                                   Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who do not love you,                                                          Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who do not pray,                                                            Lord, hear our prayer.

For the new Judas',                                                                       Lord, hear our prayer.

For our apostles who have abandoned you,                                 Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who are weak in professing their Faith,                        Lord, hear our prayer.

For the indifference toward the suffering,                                      Lord, hear our prayer.

For an end to all persecution,                                                        Lord, hear our prayer.

For Christian unity,                                                                         Lord, hear our prayer.

For world peace,                                                                            Lord, hear our prayer.


Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Spare us, Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Graciously hear us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Have mercy on us.


V. We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God.

R. Despise not our petitions in our necessity, but deliver us from all evil, O glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.


Let us pray: God our Father, in your mysterious providence, your Church must share in the sufferings of Christ your Son. Give the spirit of patience and love to those who are persecuted for their Faith in you, that they may always be true and faithful witnesses to your promise of eternal life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 


Ways to give:

Help Iraq Catholics

Catholic Relief Services to Middle East


More Information:

Voice of the Martyrs




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