Our Lady Help of Christians
(Latin: Sancta Maria Auxilium Christianorum; Spanish: Nuestra Señora María Auxiliadora; Filipino: Maria, Mapag-ampon sa mga Kristiyano), is a Roman Catholic Marian devotion with a feast day celebrated on May 24. Saint John Chrysostomwas the first person to use this Marian title in year 345 as a devotion to the Virgin Mary, along with Saint Don Boscowho also propagated the same Marian devotion under this title.
The title of Mary Help of Christians is associated with the defense of Christian Europe (Latin and Greek), the north ofAfrica and the Middle East from non-Christian peoples during the Middle Age. In 1572, the Islamic Ottoman Empire intended to invade Christian Europe. Pope Pius V called Christian armies from all over Europe to defend the continent and asked the believers to pray to Mary in order to help the crusaders. The defeat of the Muslim Turks was attributed to the intercession of Mary under this title.
There are two inscriptions of the first centuries of Christianity in Greek related to the Virgin Mary: : θεοτοκος (Teotokos, Theotokos, Mother of God) and Βοετεια (Boeteia, the Helper). The Fathers of the Church referred to Mary as “Βοετεια”. John Chrysostom used the title in a homily of 345, Proclus in 476 and Sebas of Caesarea in 532. After the Patristic period (5th century), other persons used it like Romano Melone in 518, the Patriarch of Jerusalem,Sophronius in 560, John of Damascus in 749 and German of Constantinople in 733.
In the view of Fr. Johann G. Roten, SM, the invocation of Mary as Help of Christians is part of the oldest prayer addressed directly to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium, which was found on a papyrus dating, at the latest, from the end of the 3rd century. This prayer was composed at a time of great danger for Christians and for the Church. “Praesidium” is translated as “an assistance given in time of war by fresh troops in a strong manner.”