by Patti O’Brien, St. Joseph the Worker Council
In the 5th century, during the reign of Pope Sixtus III, the town of Genazzano, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Rome, had contributed a large portion of its revenue for the Roman basilica now known as Santa Maria Maggiore. In appreciation, a church, called Santa Maria, was built in Genazzano and was later entrusted to the Augustinian Orderin 1356. Numerous cures were said to have taken place there. The Augustinian friars were invited to minister to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims. They continue to serve there to this day.
According to tradition, over time the old Augustinian church of Santa Maria in Genazzano fell into disrepair. A local widow undertook to renovate the church but ran out of funds, for which she was heartily mocked for her lack of foresight. In the year 1467, in the midst of the festivities for the Feast of Saint Mark, the townfolk suddenly heard "exquisite music." A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended and obliterated an unfinished wall of the parish church. In front of the populace, the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco, no thicker than a postcardand no more than eighteen inches square, of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was revealed. It was widely believed that it had been miraculously transported from a church in Scutari, Albania, when that area was besieged by the Turks.
The picture of Our Lady was at first called "La Madonna del Paradiso" and now better known as "Madonna del Buon Consiglio" (Our Lady of Good Counsel).
Such was the holy image's reputation that Pope Urban VIIImade a "glittering" pilgrimage there in 1630, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven, as did Pope Pius IXin 1864. On November 17, 1682, Pope Innocent XIhad the picture solemnly crowned. Among her noted clients have been St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Liguori, St John Bosco, and Blessed Stephen Bellesini.
On April 22, 1903,Pope Leo XIIIincluded the invocation "Mater boni consilii" in the Litany of Loreto. In 1939, Venerable Pope Pius XIIplaced his pontificate under the maternal care of Our Lady of Good Counsel and composed a prayer to her.
The Augustinian Order contributed to the spread of this devotion internationally. In 1753, PopeBenedict XIVestablished the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Leo XIII, who was himself a member of the pious union, was deeply attached to this devotion.
Her Feast is celebrated on April 26.
The White Scapular
The small Scapularof Our Lady of Good Counsel (the White Scapular) was presented by the Hermits of St Augustineto Pope Leo XIII, who, on December 19-21, 1893, approved it and endowed it with indulgences in a Decree of the Congregation of Rites.
On the front panel of the sacramental(to be made of white wool) is the image of the fresco of Our Lady of Good Counsel, with the inscription, “Mater boni consilii [ora pro nobis].” On the second segment is found the papal coat-of-arms, which includes the Triple Tiaraand the Keys of Heaven, with the words of Leo XIII: “Fili acquisce consiliis ejus” (Child, listen to her counsels).
Our Lady of Good Counsel is the Patroness of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, the National Council of Catholic Women, and of the Catholic Women's League of Canada, and other churches and monasteries throughout the world.