Today in the Passionist Calendar we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady, Mother of Holy Hope. The origin of the devotion among the Passionists is an image of Mary holding the child Jesus who has a cross in his hand, recalling the teaching of Saint Paul of the Cross that ‘the whole life of Jesus was a cross’ and the life of a disciple of Jesus means remaining on the cross with him. The original picture, described as a copper engraving (and, I suspect [i.e. this is my own personal theory, so you don’t have to believe it] the work of the neapolitan artist Sebastiano Conca), belonged to Father Lorenzo Ricci, the General of the Jesuits. When the Society of Jesus was suppressed in 1773, the image came into the possession of Saint Paul of the Cross. Paul’s successor, Father John Baptist Gorresio, had copies made and it became the custom for each religious to have one of these prints (or perhaps engravings) in his cell.
Father Gary has a long quotation on Mary, Mother of Hope from Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Spe Salvi. He also has pointed out a reflection on the Mother of Holy Hope by Father Sebastian MacDonald C.P., and the Young Priest gives us a Prayer to Our Lady of Holy Hope.
Given the recent news of Cardinal Newman’s impending beatification, it is interesting to note that when Newman was returning to England from Rome in 1847, the Passionist General, Father Anthony Testa, gave him some prints of the picture of Our Lady of Holy Hope to bring to Blessed Dominic Barberi C.P. This was the first time the picture had been brought to the English-speaking world. Thank you, soon-to-be-blessed John Henry Newman, for bringing us the Mother of Holy Hope!