Why is Jesus’ shoe falling off in the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help? In this beloved icon, one shoe is securely fastened while the other dangles by a string. What does this mean?
In every icon of Our Lord, He is portrayed as an adult—even in Nativity scenes, He is a miniature adult wrapped in swaddling clothes. In icon language, this indicates His divinity; it reminds us that even though Jesus came into this world the same way we did, He
already possessed boundless wisdom and knowledge.
The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, however, shows Jesus in the midst of a sweetly childlike response to fear. The icon tells us this through the quietly dangling shoe on Jesus’ foot. In icons, falling shoes indicate that their wearer is experiencing intense fear or grief.
Jesus, then, has seen something which distressed Him and has run to His beloved Mother for comfort. Perched in her arms, He is clinging with both hands to her fingers and looking back over His shoulder.
Following His gaze, we see why He is frightened.
In the corners of the icon, the archangels Michael and Gabriel hover, holding the
instruments of Our Lord’s Passion. Michael, on the left, bears the spear, the wine-soaked sponge, and the crown of thorns. Gabriel, on the right, holds the cross and the nails.
The Child Jesus knows that these instruments are a necessary part of His mission in the world. Nonetheless, His human nature shrinks from the realities of His Passion, and He flies to His Mother in such anguish that His shoe comes off.
Jesus set the example of rushing to His Blessed Mother for succor. In any distress, no matter how big or how miniscule, turn your prayers to His Mother with Our Lady of
Perpetual Help. We pray her rosary, her litany, and the “Our Mother of Perpetual Help” Novena every Wednesday evening at 6:45 PM in the Church.