“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Good Counsel

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.

Original image

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.

Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasquale Sarullo, 19th century.


Fongemie, Pauly. “Mater Boni Consilii.” OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

750th Blog Post 

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Since yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s entrance into eternal glory, I thought I would combine his words on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom with Mary in Old Testament (a series I have been writing recently) for today’s “Mondays with Mary.” Before we focus on the late Holy Father’s words, let us turn our gaze to understanding the Old Testament Marian symbol – “Created Wisdom.”

In the Old Testament, we see some rather transcendent passages on the idea of Wisdom, which focuses on the divine Person, the Father’s Word, who exists and works before all of creation is formed, most notably, Sirach 24:3-21 and Proverbs 8:22-35. The Church in the liturgical texts has used these transcendent scriptures for two Marian feasts since the seventh and tenth centuries – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven and The Nativity of Mary. In the Lectionary, these passages are commonly used for the Masses for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headed as “Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Since the seventh century, the Church has employed these texts to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This did not happen through simple accommodation, but through the simple and basic understanding of the texts, which “evidently is found in the letter of the text, but at the same time surpasses it, widens it, and enriches it.”

We see then that through the writings of the sacred author, “Wisdom, by way of reflection and participation is ascribed to Mary, the Mother of the Word of God, who from eternity was predestined, as Ineffabilis Deus, in one and the same decree with the Incarnation of divine Wisdom.” Understanding this, it is clear that Mary shares and plays a fundamental role in the mission of the Incarnation as well as the perquisites of the Word who dwelt among us, the hypostatic Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom, which was uncreated, was now incarnate in Mary, making her the epicenter of Life and Truth. She is truly “Created Wisdom.”

Madonna as Seat of Wisdom, 1199

Now that we have come to an understanding of the Marian symbol – “created wisdom”, let us turn our attention to five quotes by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on the Marian title, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom –

1. “The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed. – Termi, Italy, 1981

2. “Beloved young people! Continue to live in the truth and for the truth! May the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom, Mother of the Word who enlightens every man, assist you, enlighten you, and comfort you.” – Rome, Italy, 1979

3. “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in 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.’” – Washington, D.C., 1979

4. “The cross is the living book from which we learn definitively who we are and how we must act. This book is always open in front of us. Read, reflect, enjoy this new wisdom. Make it your own and you will walk also along the paths of knowledge, culture, and university life, spreading light in a service of love, worthy of children of God.

And look also the Blessed Virgin, standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn. 19:25) where she is given to us as our mother: she is our hope, the seat of true Wisdom.” – Rome, Italy, 1980

5. “Be faithful to the Mother of fair love. Have trust in her, as you shape your love and form your young families. May Christ always be there for you “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Krakow, Poland, 1979

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 3

Today, we continue with the third part of Mary in the Old Testament. In the month of September, we looked at Mary in the Old Testament in two parts – part 1 and part 2. Both of these blog posts focused on the women of the Old Testament and how Mary fulfills each of these women in the New Testament. If you have not read parts 1 and 2, I would suggest clicking on the links provided and read through them before reading part 3.

As with these blog posts, you will need your Holy Bible, so make sure it’s accessible.

The types of Mary below weren’t just thought up in the past few hundred years of Church History, but they find their origin with the early Church Fathers. The early Church Fathers are the key to truly understanding Catholicism. If you have never read any of the early Church Fathers, I would suggest reading about them as soon as possible. I have written on quite a few of them here. I would also suggest Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his book, The Church Fathers, as a starting point as well.

1. Mary as the Ark of Noah (Read Genesis 6:9) – Just as the Ark of Noah escaped the floodwaters that flooded the earth because of the sin of man, so too, does Mary escape the effects of sin in her Immaculate Conception.

2. Mary as Jacob’s Ladder (Read Genesis 28:12) – Just as in the dream of Jacob (who would become Israel), Jacob’s ladder reached from earth into Heaven. On the ladder were the angels ascending and descending from Heaven. Mary is seen as Jacob’s Ladder because she intercedes for those here on earth from Heaven.

3. Mary as the Burning Bush of Moses (Read Genesis 3:1) – When God appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai, the fire did not consume the bush. There is a twofold fulfillment here when it comes to Mary. First, the bush held the presence of God, as it is with Mary; she carried God within her womb. God was physically present in Mary. Second, the material of the burning bush did not burn or corrupt. The effects of original sin did not corrupt Mary’s material body.

Mary with Child - light

4. Mary as the Tower of David (Read Song of Solomon 4:4, 12) – In the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon (also known as Canticle of Canticles), we read about the impenetrable Tower of David. Mary is seen as the Tower of David because the tower was an enclosed and inviolable garden, which mirrors her purity and perpetual virginity.

5. Mary as the Temple of God (Read 1 Kings 8) – The Temple of God, which was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, represented the sanctified (holy) house of God. Mary is seen as a Temple because she would be the tabernacle personified. She carried in her womb the presence of God. When the Israelites traveled in the desert for 40 years long before the Temple was built, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the presence of God, was kept in the Tabernacle, which means, “tent.” Next week, we will focus on Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant.

On a side note, Jesus is the one who is fulfillment of the Temple – See the Gospel in Readings for the Third Sunday of Lent.

6. Mary as the “Seat of Wisdom” (Read Wisdom of Solomon 7,8 [9-12 if you have time]) – In the book of Wisdom, the term – created wisdom, was written in the feminine gender. This is seen as the foreshadowing of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the great “Seat of Wisdom.”  [Connections to Esheth Yahil or “Woman of Valor” in Proverbs 31] More to come on this topic in 2 weeks!


Miravalle, Mark. Introduction to Mary. Queenship Publishing, 2006. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Seat of Wisdom

In the book, Maria – Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God, the Holy Father collects many of his homilies, speeches, and prayers together along with many great photos of his early travels in his Pontificate. It’s a great book for any home library, but it’s really set up as a coffee table book. The photos are quite amazing and inspiring to view. A few weeks ago I wrote a post for “Mondays with Mary” – The Most Holy Name of Mary. In that post, I listed the many titles of Mary. One of the titles I listed was Mary, Seat of Wisdom. On September 14, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address on the preparation for Christmas and this special title of Mary tothe teachers and students of Roman Universities at St. Peter’s Basilica. Below is the last part of his speech to the academic institutions of Rome –

 “Learn from the Virgin Mary, the first person to contemplate the humanity of the incarnate Word, the humanity of Divine Wisdom. In the Baby Jesus, with whom she had infinite and silent conversations, she recognized the human Face of God, so that the mysterious Wisdom of the Son was impressed on the Mother’s mind and heart. So it was that Mary became the “Seat of Wisdom” and with this title is venerated in particular by the Roman Academic Community.

A special icon is dedicated to the Sedes Sapientiae [located below]. From Rome it has already visited various countries on a pilgrimage to university institutions. It is present here today, so that it may be passed on from the delegation which has come here from Bulgaria to the one which has come from Albania.

I greet with affection the representatives of both these nations and express the wish that per Mariam their respective academic communities may advance ever further in their search for truth and goodness, in the light of Divine Wisdom.

Sedes Sapientiae…Ora Pro Nobis!

Coming in the month of October – “Mondays with Mary” will feature The Most Holy Rosary. Tell your family and friends to subscribe to Tom Perna’s blog or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.