Friday, April 26, 2013


Genazzano is a busy little town about thirty miles southeast of Rome.  A church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel was built there in the fifth century.  In 1356 this ancient church was given into the care of the friars o the Order of St. Augustine.  In 1467 a local widow, Patruccia de Geneo, felt inspired by Our Lady to rebuild it.  When the project had to be stopped for lack of funds, people scoffed at the widow.  But she said, "The work will be completed before I die . . . and a great Lady will come to take possession of it."

On St. Mark's Day, 1467, during a grand public fiesta, a number of the people standing in the main square saw a fleecy cloud float across the clear sky, descend and affix itself to the face of one of the walls of Petruccia's unfinished church.  The cloud divided and displayed in the midst a beautiful small picture of the Madonna and Child which was set against the wall on a narrow ledge, a few feet from the ground, where no picture had been before.  At the same moment all the church bells of the town began to ring.  Petruccia, who had been saying her prayers in another place, came running forth and threw herself upon her knees, crying with joy and proclaiming that this was the Great Lady come to take possession of her house.  Alarmed by the ringing of the bells, other people in outlying villages began to gather and to pray in front of this wonderful picture of Our Lady, and instantly began a marvelous shower of graces and cures which were recorded by an appointed notary.  The record, still preserved, dates from April 27 to August 14, 1467, and contains the description of 171 reputed miracles.  The townsfolk called the picture the "Miraculous Madonna"; others, unable to explain its origin, called it the "Madonna of Paradise." brought to Genazzano by the angels.  

A few days later, two strangers arrived, one of them an Albanian, the other a Slav;  both claimed they had seen the same picture a few weeks previously in a church on a hillside outside Scutari, in Albania.  They and some of their Albanian friends, refugees from the Turks who ravaged their country, took up residence in Genazzano to be near their Madonna.

Pope Paul II sent two bishops to examine the circumstances surrounding this new shrine and devotion.  The details of the findings are preserved in their original texts which are supported by other contemporary records in the Papal Archives.

The painting was done upon a thin layer of plaster of porcelain texture the thickness of an eggshell.  No one could have detached it uncracked from another wall.  This wafer-like sheet of plaster, although enshrined in marvelous gold framework and adorned with a king's precious stones, stood upright with no support of any kind except the narrow ledge on which it rested for five hundred years.  It was possible for the commission to pass a thread of wire around and behind the picture from top to bottom.  These careful investigations convinced the commissioners and the Pope himself that this was the picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel that had been venerated for centuries in Scutari.  It was proved that the church from which it was believed to have been borne away retained an empty space of the exact dimensions of the picture.  All this authentic evidence has been preserved.

In 1630 Pope Urban VIII made a pilgrimage to the shrine in person.  In 1777 the Sacred Congregation of Rites approved a proper Office commemorating the history of the shrine, to be used by the Augustinian Order who to this day serve the shrine of "Our Lady of Good Counsel."  The pictue has survived wars and bombing, though the church was struck and its high altar demolished.  The golden shrine shows scars of the late war, but the picture is intact.  Devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel became popular in England, since the English College in Rome has a villa near Genazzano.  An excellent reproduction of the picture is enshrined in the Priory Church of St. Augustine in Hammersmith, England.

By a decree of April 22, 1903, Pope Leo XIII added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation, "Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us."  He concluded his decree with the prayer that in the midst of disaster and darkness, that loving Mother whom the Fathers called the treasurer of divine grace and counselor of all power might manifest herself to the world as the Mother of Good Counsel and obtain for her children the gift of Holy Counsel, that grace of the Holy Spirit that illumines minds and hearts.  

Are you in need of advice in the serious problems of life.  Remember that Jesus gave you a Counselor who will never fail you.  Go to your Heavenly Mother with childlike confidence and abandonment.  Entrust yourself to her prudent guidance, for she is your mother of Good Counsel.  


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.
          V.  Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
          R.  And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

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Divine Spirit, Spirit of Truth, impart to my soul a tender love, unbounded veneration, and a childlike devotion to my beloved Mother, Mary Immaculate.  She is Your immaculate Bride.  She was given to me as Mother by Jesus, my Savior.
          Make me believe of Mary what the Church believes of her, and love her as the Church loves her, more and more as Jesus loves her, and as You love her.  Give me, by the Gift of Piety, a singular devotion to her, so characteristic of all the saints.  Through her kind prayers, and Your divine grace, may I become more like Jesus.  Amen.

Mary, Mother of God, you are Our Lady of Good Counsel because of the divine wisdom and prudence which you received from the Holy Spirit.  This wisdom and prudence showed itself at a very early age, when you willed to devote yourself entirely to God and were presented by your saintly parents, at your own request, for the temple service.  You remained there working for God, meditating on His holy Law, praying and praising His Divine Goodness.  
          The virtue of holy prudence guides man in his choice of purposes and in the best means to attain them.  You showed singular prudence during your life.  You treasured up all the words spoken by the holy angels concerning your Divine Son, as well as those pronounced by the prophetess Anna and by holy Simeon when you presented your heart.  During your Son's public ministry you seldom appeared, because this was the prudent thing to do because of your close relationship to the Redeemer.  
          Mary, My Mother, how perfectly you have followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and acted on Divine Wisdom!  No one ever carried out the teaching of your Son with greater exactness than you;  hence His words refer to you perfectly:  "Everyone, therefore, who hears these my words and acts upon them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house on rock." (Matt. 7:24).  Teach me to imitate your prudence and listen to your counsel in all walks of life.  Tell me how to embrace whatever is best that I may attain the great purpose of my life - heaven and the possession of God - and how to reject whatever is opposed to it or likely to make this attainment difficult.  Let me never be influenced by temporal considerations - wealth, honors, and pleasures - that I may always follow the counsel of Jesus:  "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides" (Luke 12:31).
          Mary, Mother of God, you are Our Lady of Good Counsel because you are the Seat of Wisdom.  You are the Mother of the Uncreated Wisdom, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  You shared more in this wisdom than did any other creature, because you approached nearer to the Source from which it came  Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom.  For thirty-three years you enjoyed the company of the only-begotten Son of God in the intimate relation of Mother and Son;  and under your care, according to the Evangelist, He "advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace, before God and man" (Luke 2:52).
          In all your deeds you showed the fruits of the Divine Wisdom which had made you the dwelling place of God.  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," says the psalmist (110:10).  Great must have been the childlike reverence and respect with which you watched over your every action and which preserved you from ever displeasing the Divine Wisdom.
          Mary, My Mother, I am the work of the wisdom of God together with all other creatures.  Everything inside and outside me should reflect His divine perfections.  Like you, let me learn Divine Wisdom and see God in all things so that I may rise from the creature to the great Creator.  Help me to esteem the light of my reason as a sharing in the Divine Wisdom, especially when I try to follow the teaching of the Gospel.  Let me never esteem worldly wisdom so highly as to pay but little attention to the principles of that wisdom which is from heaven and which alone can make me truly wise and happy.  Help me to bear in mind that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God and that the secrets of Divine Wisdom are imparted only to the humble of heart, while they are hidden from the worldly-wise.
          Our Lady of Good Counsel, I beg you to teach me true heavenly wisdom which was the source of every good deed you performed.  Keep me humble that I may be able to receive your counsel.  How often am I confused in the problems of life!  How often I do not know where to turn!  Advise me what to do.  Give me your good counsel so that, following it humbly, I may ever please God, find tue happiness on this earth and eternal life in the world to come.
          Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Good Counsel, I appeal to you for advice and guidance.  Teach me to desire ardently all that is pleasing to God, to seek after it prudently, to accept it truthfully, and to do it perfectly, for the praise and glory of God.  I beg you to pray for me that by the light of the Holy Spirit and your direction, I may see my duty, and that by God's grace and your help I may fulfill it.
          Pray to Jesus, the Divine Word and Eternal Wisdom, Who is "the life that is the light of men"  (John 1:4), that through you He may teach me His Divine Wisdom.  He ordered most perfectly His whole creation, for He is the true fountain and highest source of light and wisdom.  Ask Him to favor me with a ray of His brightness to enlighten the darkness of sin and ignorance in which I was born.  May He, Who makes little ones to speak Divine Wisdom, direct my tongue and pour out upon my soul the grace I need ever to follow His and your example in my state of life.
          Mary, My Mother, through your prayers may I be blessed with a keen understanding of the ways of God.  I desire to place under your protection all my efforts in my striving for holiness and all the works of my daily life.  I declare that I undertake them only that I may better promote the honor of God and devotion to you.  Enlighten the beginning of my efforts, direct my progress, bring my completed work to perfection.  Grant that following your good counsel, I may avoid sin, practice virtue, save my soul and attain eternal life.  Only in heaven will I realize the wisdom of your motherly guidance which urged me ever to seek God and to find my happiness in doing His holy will.

O Virgin Mother, Lady of Good Counsel!
Sweetest picture artist ever drew,
In all doubts I fly to you for guidance;
Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

By your face to Jesus' face inclining,
Sheltered safely in your mantle blue;
By His little arms around you twining,
Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

By the light within your dear eyes dwelling, 
By the tears that dim their lustre, too,
By the story that these tears are telling,
Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

Life, alas! is often dark and dreary,
Cheating shadows hide the truth from view;
When my soul is most perplexed and weary,
Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

Be of all my friends the best and dearest,
O my counsellor sincere and true;  
Let your voice sound always first and clearest,
Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

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          O God, Who gave her who bore your beloved Son to be our Mother and glorified her fair image by a wondrous apparition, grant, we beg of You, that by always following her counsels we may be able to live after Your own Heart and arrive happily in our heavenly fatherland.  Through the the same Christ Our Lord.  Amen. 

Our Lady in Catholic Life by Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D., 1957
From the shelves of Littlemore Library, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2013 

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