OUR LADY of GOOD COUNSEL
Today, the Church honors our Blessed Mother under the mantle of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and the original painting of the Blessed Virgin with this title is enshrined in a church located in the small town of Genazzano, about thirty miles southeast of Rome.
According to legend, on April 25, 1467, the entire town was participating in the yearly feast in honor of Saint Mark the Evangelist. The old church of Santa Maria 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 by seventeen inches high, came to rest on a narrow ledge in the church by the Altar and remains in that position to this day. 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 the 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 papal commission verified that there was indeed an empty space in the plaster wall of the church at Scutari, the exact size of the portrait. The unfinished church in Genazzano was soon completed after the miraculous event and became a place of pilgrimage. Within the first six months alone, over 170 healings and miracles were recorded.
The cult (religious devotion) honoring Our Lady of Good Counsel increased. In the year 1630, Pope Urban VIII, himself, went to Genazzano on a pilgrimage, as did Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1864. On March 17, 1903, Pope Leo XIII elevated the church of Santa Maria to a minor basilica. And in April of the same year, he authorized the insertion of the invocation of “Mater Boni Consillii (Mother of Good Counsel)” into the Litany of Loreto, a Marian prayer litany invoking the various titles given to the Mother of God. He also had a copy of the image installed in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Basilica.
In 1939, Venerable Pope Pius XII placed his pontificate under the Maternal care of the Madonna of Good Counsel and Pope St. John XXIII made a visit to the shrine in 1959. In World War II, a bomb crashed through the roof of the basilica, destroying the sanctuary and high altar. The fragile image of Our Lady of Good Counsel was only a few yards away but was miraculously undamaged.
Many pilgrims visit the church in Genazzano, and take part in the annual spring celebration, observed on April 25. Elsewhere in the world, we commemorate the feastday of Our Lady of Good Counsel on April 26, the day after the Feast of Saint Mark.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, newadvent.org and campus.udayton.edu/mary)
(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Mass of Our Mother of Good Counsel)
“O Lord, who know that the thoughts of men are full of fear and uncertainty, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from whom Your Son took flesh, grant us Your counsel that we may be made to recognize the things that are pleasing to You and be directed in all our works.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”