Our Mother of Good Counsel

April 26

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, under the title Mother of Good Counsel has a special place of honor among the Augustinians.

A fifth-century church in Latium was named Saint Mary of Good Counsel. Pastoral care of its people was entrusted to the Augustinians in 1356.

The original painting entitled Mother of Good Counsel is in the Augustinian Church in Genazzano, Italy. This picture portrays Mary holding the child Jesus. Her veil is around Jesus' shoulders, and Mary, caring mother that she was, is giving some good counsel to her son.

An ancient legend says that this fresco was miraculously transported to Genazzano from its former home in Albania. The fresco came to rest on a narrow ledge inside the then unfinished Genazzano church, according to this legend, and it remains in the same place today.

During a restoration of the church begun in 1957, however, scientific tests gave evidence of the true origins of the small (12 inches by 17 inches) fresco. It was probably painted sometime between 1417 and 1431 by the Italian artist Gentile de Fabriano. It appears to have been part of a larger fresco that covered most of the church wall.

The unfinished church was used, even though more construction remained to be done. The wall with the fresco was later covered with other decorations, and even later was painted over. Years later a widow named Petruccia promised to pay for additional construction in the church. During this construction, the original painting of mother and child was revealed, perhaps by falling plaster or peeling paint.

Its unexpected appearance was considered by some to be a miracle. Thus the legend grew.

The Genazzano church became a popular place of pilgrimage. Numerous cures took place there. The Augustinian Friars were invited to minister to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims. They continue to serve there to this day.

Most Popes, shortly after their election to that office, visit the shrine of Our Mother of Good Counsel to pray for wisdom.