Our Lady of Good Counsel
Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello
Mater Boni Consili
The church that enshrines the original painting of Our Lady of Good Counsel is located
the small town of Genazzano , about thirty miles southeast of Rome. As early as the fifth century, the
people of Genazzano were greatly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. When Pope Sixtus III (432-
440) asked for donations to restore the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, the faithful were
generous in their support. Shortly thereafter, they built a church dedicated to Our Lady of Good
Counsel in Genazzano. The church was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian Fathers in 1356.
With the passage of time, it was necessary to repair the church and it appeared that only
local widow, Petruccia de Geneo, was willing to aid with the financing of the restoration. She was
criticized by some of her neighbors but her efforts were rewarded by the miraculous event of April
25, 1467. |
According to legend, the entire town was participating in the yearly
feast in honor of St. Mark the Evangelist. The church was still unfinished and
roofless when the image of the Madonna and Child was transported there from its
former location in Scutari, Albania. Around four o'clock that afternoon, the
multitude of people saw a mysterious cloud descend upon the church. The church
bells rang of their own accord and the cloud parted revealing the portrait. The
image, fifteen inches wide
seventeen inches high, came to rest on a narrow ledge in the church and remains in that position to this
The painting is a fresco, painted on a thin layer of plaster as thin and fragile as an egg shell.
Within weeks, two refugees from Albania arrived in Genazzano. They testified before
papal delegation that the same image was in a church in the Albanian town of Scutari only a few
weeks earlier. When the town was on the verge of being invaded, the portrait was miraculously
relocated for its own protection. The commission verified that there was indeed an empty space in
plaster wall of the church at Scutari, the exact size of the portrait. The unfinished church was
completed after the miraculous event of April 1467 and became a place of pilgrimage. Within the
six months alone, over 170 healings and miracles were recorded.
More than any other pope, Pope Leo XIII (1878- 1903) had a deep love for this
He was born in the town of Carpineto, not far from the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel,
elevated the shrine to the status of a Minor Basilica. In 1903, he inserted the title "Mater Boni
Consilii" into the Litany of Loreto and also had a copy of the image installed in the Pauline
Chapel of the Vatican Basilica.
Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) dedicated his entire pontificate to the Madonna of Good
Counsel and Pope John XIII (1958-1963) made a visit to the shrine in 1959. The present church
was built in 1628. In World War II, a bomb crashed through the roof, destroying the sanctuary
high altar. The fragile image of Our Lady of Good Counsel was only a few yards away but was
The miraculous image, at first called the Madonna of Paradise, has always been
with special favor by the Apostolic See. Pope Paul II (1464-1471) called for an investigation
gave initial approval to devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope St. Pius V (1565-1572)
attributed the victory in the Battle of Lepanto to the help of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
In 1753, Pope Benedict XIV approved the placing of a gold crown over the image and
1779 Pope Pius VI granted the Augustinian Order the special privilege of celebrating the
each year on April 26. Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) had special devotion to Our Lady under this
and made a pilgrimage to Genazzano in 1864. || |
The above article appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic, January 1996. Reprinted
with permission of the author and publisher.
Our Lady of Good Counsel
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