Since this upcoming Wednesday, April 26, is the feast of Our Lady of Counsel, I thought I would share with you the story behind the image and how devotion has unfolded since the mid to later fifteenth century.
In the small town of Genazzano, in the Alban Hills, not that far from Rome, Italy, is the where the image of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Mater boni consilii in Latin) is located and venerated by the faithful. In 1467, during the Feast of St. Mark, pilgrims to the area heard beautiful music playing. As their attention was drawn to the sky, they witnessed what seemed to be a cloud slowly descending upon a wall of the church that was unfinished. The wall where the cloud came to rest was dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God with the title of Good Counsel. For five centuries, the image rests suspended, with no visible support. The image is painted on plaster, which is no thicker than a card. It has remained there all these many years. It is not known to this day who painted the image.
The two figures represent the Mother and the Child after their return from the Temple where they presented Jesus and also where Simeon spoke the sad prophecies to Mary. Our Lady’s eyes are half closed as she is in contemplation – she is taking counsel with God. Our Lord, the little child, does not look at us, but He looks to his Mother, showing us that we must turn to her for Counsel – the Seat of Wisdom. It is an image that should be in every home.
Mary became the Mother of God when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her at the Annunciation. She now holds the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, and counsel. Since she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary has become our Mother of Good Counsel. Mary was the given the responsibility and duty to counsel Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child. Knowing this, we should look towards her when seeking counsel for our own lives.
Since the moment on the cross when Jesus gave her to us through the Beloved Apostle, she has been diligently watching over all of us. Through protecting us, leading us closer to Jesus, and aiding us in all things – she is Our Lady, Our Mother of Good Counsel. The Blessed Virgin Mary was trusted by God to watch over the Son, so too must we must learn to entrust ourselves to her loving care and watchful eye.
Under this title of Mother of Good Counsel, the Blessed Virgin is also known as the Madonna of the Popes. Many Popes in the history of the Church have had a devotion to her. The greatest devotee of among the Popes would have to be Pope Leo XIII. During his Papacy, he created the white scapular, which is worn by the servants of the Mother of Good Counsel. As a motto he said to her followers, “Children, follow her counsels.”
In an address from October 1979 in Washington, D.C., speaking about Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, which is connected to Our Lady of Good Counsel, the Great Polish Pope said this –
“To succeed in your intention, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in the moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’”
I would encourage you to place an image of Our Lady of Good Counsels in your homes, if you don’t have one already.
Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel…Pray for Us.
Fongemie, Pauly. “Mater Boni Consilii.” OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
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