Published September 20, 2023
PEACHTREE CORNERS—Mary Our Queen Church now has a hand-painted copy of the Blessed Virgin Mary icon, Salus Populi Romani. Bishop Joel Konzen, SM, blessed the painting on the parish’s Aug. 20 feast day, the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The original icon—after which this newly painted icon was fashioned—is the oldest image of Our Lady in Rome and is enshrined in the oldest church in the west dedicated to Our Lady, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
Over the ages, the prayers of Our Lady, through devotion to that original icon, have been invoked during times of war and plagues. Only recently was the same icon brought forth by Pope Francis during the pandemic.
According to tradition, the same icon in Rome was also called the Regina Caeli, and so when Pope Pius XII established the feast day of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, he also crowned the original icon in Rome. Consequently, Mary Our Queen’s patronage and feast day are directly related to the Roman icon of the Virgin. That icon was already considered ancient when it arrived in Rome during the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great (whose relic rests in the altar at Mary Our Queen Church). The icon is sometimes included among the paintings supposedly rendered by St. Luke himself. That legendary status indicates how much this image has been venerated by Christians over the ages.
The icon now enshrined in Peachtree Corners is a hand-painted copy rendered by Georgia artist Karen Webster. The family of Patricia McMorrow donated it to the parish as a memorial to the late Denis McMorrow, a parishioner of Mary Our Queen.
Mary Our Queen has other treasures and relics, including a relic of the veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is brought forth for veneration on special feasts. Mary Our Queen parish is in Peachtree Corners, in Gwinnett County.