Rome (Italy). On the evening of 11 May 2023, Mary Help of Christians Community of the Generalate in Rome, the Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, and the Councilors present, gathered in the community hall for a ‘surprise’. Sr. Randa Kortas, FMA originally from Syria, presented an icon she wrote, depicting Mary Help of Christians and Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello.
After the official moment in which Mother Chiara and the Animator of the Community, Sr. Carla Castellino, ‘unveiled’ the icon, the author explained:
“I wrote this icon to express our gratitude to Mary Most Holy Help of Christians and to Mother Mazzarello, at the conclusion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute. This icon desires to make the presence of Mary Help of Christians more visible and alive, and her ‘living monument’ Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello.
“I wrote it drawing on some texts both from the Word of God where Mary is present, as at the wedding at Cana, “His Mother was there” (Jn 2,1-22); and from the Constitutions of the FMA Institute, article 4 ‘Mary Most Holy inspired our Institute and continues to be it Mother and Teacher. We are, therefore, a religious Family that belongs entirely to Mary’. Don Bosco wanted us to be a ‘living monument’ of his gratitude to the Help of Christians and asks us to be his prolonged ‘thank you’ throughout all time…’.
The icon is rich in the Word of God, charismatic sources, symbols, gestures, positions, colors. Now I would like to give you a general overview, then we will have another chance to stop and experience a moment of prayer and contemplation together of the icon:
– The theological foundation of the icon is the mystery of the incarnation: Emmanuel – God is with us! And thus, the living presence of Mary.
– Light is an essential element in the icon to bring out this mystery of the Divine light incarnate in Jesus. Thanks to His incarnation, we can rise spiritually towards His Light.
– The similarity of faces is not accidental: is motivated by the desire to write an icon in which physical, and above all spiritual, traits of the first FMA mirror the traits of the Mother. I was also struck by the words of Mother Chiara on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, ‘Each daughter carries within her the traits of her Mother. Mary gives us the gift of being her daughters and she wants us to be like her, ‘helpers’ with her of life and grace for all the people entrusted to us.”
Of the attitudes, position, and gestures of Mary-Son and daughter, and their spiritual significance I only underline:
Mary is the Mother of Jesus, Mother and woman of a fruitful womb: the icon represents her motherhood in generating Mother Mazzarello. Main was born right from Mary’s womb and for this reason, she is a daughter, and the daughter should resemble the Mother, both in her features and in her attitudes. Main is the image of the Institute and of every FMA. Therefore, it can be said, in a symbolic way, that the Institute is born from Mary’s womb, every FMA is born from Her.
The mountain (summit): in this icon represents the Mount of the Transfiguration. It is the symbol that visually represents the stages of Mary Domenica’s spiritual life: a life built on the solid rock, which is Jesus, on which she decisively embarked on a journey of holiness, climbing God’s mountain step by step. Always reaching upwards, she let herself be transfigured in God, up to the full ‘configuration’ to Christ and to Mary Most Holy Help of Christians, conforming to her virtues. For this, the holiness of M.D. Mazzarello is characterized by the virtues that are represented in the icon with different types of Marian flowers that grow on the mountain: the violet, flower of humility; the rose, with the sweet scent of sanctity and beauty; the lily, symbol of candid purity; the spikenard, perfume of love and holiness of M. Mazzarello scattered throughout the world”.
“Dedicated to the Motherhouse, the Generalate, and to every FMA, in gratitude to Mary Most Holy Help of Christians and Mother Mazzarello, at the conclusion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the FMA Institute. You are a living monument”.
Thanking Mother Chiara, she said that this icon helps to remind us that each of us was born as Mother Mazzarello from the womb of Mary Help of Christians and to be aware that our vocation was born there.
The precious icon was blessed on 12 May 2023 at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration, and remained in the chapel, where Mother, the Councilors, and the sisters of the Generalate were able to contemplate it and pause in prayer, precisely on the eve of the Solemnity of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello.