Our Lady of Good Counsel

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Our Lady of Good Counsel
Location Genazzano, Italy
Date c.1417-1431
Type fresco
Patronage Albania, Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, Augustinian Province of Midwest US

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Latin: Mater boni consilii) is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, after a painting said to be miraculous, now found in the thirteenth century Augustinian church at Genazzano, near Rome, Italy. Measuring 40 by 45 centimeters the image is a fresco executed on a thin layer of plaster no thicker than an egg shell.[1] Over the centuries, devotions to Our Lady of the Good Counsel grew among saints and Popes, to the extent that a reference to it was added to the Litany of Loreto and the devotion spread throughout the world. Her feast day is April 26.


In the 5th century, during the reign of Pope Sixtus III, the town of Genazzano, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Rome, had contributed a large portion of its revenue for the Roman basilica now known as Santa Maria Maggiore. In appreciation, a church, called Santa Maria, was built in Genazzano and was later entrusted to the Augustinian Order in 1356.[1] 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.[2]


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

According to tradition, in the year 1467, in the midst of the festivities for the Feast of Saint Mark, the townfolk suddenly heard "exquisite music." A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended and obliterated an unfinished wall of the parish church. In front of the populace, the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco, no thicker than a carte-de-visite and no more than eighteen inches square, of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was revealed. It was widely believed that it had been miraculously transported from a church in Scutari, Albania.[1]

The picture of Our Lady was at first called "La Madonna del Paradiso" and now better known as "Madonna del Buon Consiglio" (Our Lady of Good Counsel).[3]

Such was the holy image's reputation that Pope Urban VIII made a "glittering" pilgrimage there in 1630, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven, as did Pope Pius IX in 1864. On November 17, 1682, Pope Innocent XI had the picture solemnly crowned.[4] Among her noted clients have been St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Liguori, St John Bosco, and Blessed Stephen Bellesini.



Art experts consulted during a restoration conducted between 1957 and 1959 suggest that the image of the Madonna was once part of a larger fresco that covered the wall and was subsequently covered over with plaster. They believe the fresco is likely the work of the early fifteenth century artist Gentile da Fabriano, probably painted around the time of Pope Martin V (1417-1431).[5]

Pious Union

In 1753, Pope Benedict XIV established the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel. More than any other pope, Leo XIII, who was himself a member of the pious union, was deeply attached to this devotion.[6]


The small Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel (the White Scapular) was presented by the Hermits of St. Augustine to Pope Leo XIII, who, in December 1893, approved it and endowed it with indulgences.


On April 22, 1903, that same Pope included the invocation "Mater boni consilii" in the Litany of Loreto. In 1939, Venerable Pope Pius XII placed his pontificate under the maternal care of Our Lady of Good Counsel and composed a prayer to her.[4][7]


The Augustinian Order contributed to the spread of this devotion internationally. Through the years, various institutions have been named in honor of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel. These institutions include a college, high schools, and churches.

Her Feast is celebrated on April 26.


Our Lady of Good Counsel is the Patroness of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver,[8] the National Council of Catholic Women, and of the Catholic Women's League of Canada.

The "Midwest Augustinians" headquartered in Chicago have also adopted Our Lady of Good Counsel as their patroness, having named their Augustinian jurisdiction as the "Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel." The Midwest Augustinians have shared the following Prayer to Our Mother of Good Counsel:

We turn to you, our Mother of Good Counsel, as we seek to imitate your faith-filled life. May we be led by the same Wisdom which God sent forth from Heaven to guide you along unfamiliar paths and through challenging decisions.
Keep us united in mind and heart as we go forward in joyful hope toward the grace-filled freedom that Saint Augustine recommends.
O Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, hear our prayers as we look to you for guidance. Pray for us to our loving and merciful Father, to your Son, Our Lord Jesus the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, giver of all Wisdom, one God for ever and ever. Amen.[9]


Our Lady of Good Counsel in White Plains, New York is the site of the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion. The Good Counsel Complex is on the National Register of Historic Places.

See also



  • The Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, by Monsignor George F. Dillon, M. H. Gill and Son, 1888.
  • The Mother of Good Counsel of Genazzano, by João S. Clá Dias, Western Hemisphere Cultural Society, Inc, 1992. ISBN 1-881008-03-7
  • Miraculous Images of Our Lady, by Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc, 1993. ISBN 0-89555-484-4

External links