Our Lady of Good Counsel

I live in a small town about 30 miles south east of Rome. Very close to my small town is another small town by the name of Genazzano.


Because the people of Genazzano donated a large part of its revenues to Pope Sixtus III for the rebuilding of the basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome which had sustained considerable damage during the earthquake of 1348, they were rewarded, as a gesture of appreciation, with a small church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel.

In 1356 the church was entrusted to the care of the Augustinians, who had been in Genazzano since 1278. With the passage of time the church fell into disrepair.  In 1467, an Augustinian tertiary named Petruccia, widow of Giovanni da Nocera, pledged to assist the order in the restoration of the little church. After spending all her funds on this endeavour the restoration was halted due to the increased cost of both materials and labour. She was subsequently ridiculed by the parishioners who had considered her plans presumptuous.

Her efforts were, nevertheless, rewarded in a marvelous manner.

On St. Mark’s day, 25th April 1467, while the entire population participated in a public festival, a cloud descended from an otherwise clear sky and obscured the unfinished church. Before thousands of witnesses the cloud dissipated, revealing a painting of Our Lady and the Christ Child, a portrait that had not been there moments before. News of the mysterious image spread rapidly.  The provincial of the Augustinian order, Ambrogio da Cori, recorded that ‘… all of Italy came to visit the blessed image, cities and towns came in pilgrimage. Many wonders occurred, many favours granted …’ He likewise recorded that ‘the very beautiful image of Mary appeared on the wall without human intervention’.

Madre del Buon Consiglio

The widow who humbly set in motion the restoration of the church that was to occasion such wonders lived to see the church restored and a splendid monastery erected.

A few weeks later, amazing information was secured from two refugees who arrived in Genazzano from Albania – a country that was then being terrorized by the Turks.  The men testified before a papal delegation that they had seen the very same image in a church in the Albanian town of Scutari only a few weeks before. The commission of inquiry established that a portrait of the Madonna that had been venerated in the church at Scutari was indeed missing. Where the picture had previously been located, there remained an empty space the exact size of the portrait.

Measuring 40 by 45 cms, the painting is a fresco executed on a thin layer of porcelain no thicker than an eggshell. It has been ascertained that the removal of such a fragile material from a wall could not have been successfully accomplished by human hands.

A curiosity exists in that the face of the Madonna in this picture appears sad when viewed from an angle but she appears to smile and look at the spectator who stands before her. It is also a recognized fact that the colour acquires various tones in different periods of the year although the painting is now protected by a sheet of glass. During World War II a bomb fell on the church, crashed through the roof and exploded on the floor of the sanctuary. The main altar and several others, as well as walls and pillars were literally obliterated. The fragile image was entirely unaffected.

At the beginning of the year 1800 Our Lady of Good Counsel was proclaimed Patron Saint of Albania.


22 Responses to “Our Lady of Good Counsel”

  1. 1 Besnik October 15, 2009 at 15:31

    Thank you for this good story. I know this story from my grandmother in Albania. She said to me that big devotion to this madonna in Scutari.
    I am immigrant in Italia I think always like me the Madonna Buon Consiglio is a refugee from our country 🙂
    Mirë upafshim.

  2. 2 brian October 15, 2009 at 17:51

    Hello Gabriella!

    How wonderful to live near Rome, and very near Genazzano. Your picture tells me that it is a very special place – so beautiful. My next visit to Italy will be for Blessed Teresa’s Canonization, hopefully soon. I MUST visit Genazzano on this pilgrimage.

    I watched the video – although I can not understand the language – it really isn’t necessary. And the Fresco moves me to prayer. I will have to copy it and place it on my desk.

    God bless you!

  3. 3 Ruben Vidal October 15, 2009 at 18:00

    Behind a very old holy picture of Our lady of Good Counsel, I have this beautiful prayer:

    Virgin Mother, Lady of Good Counsel,
    Sweetest Patron mortal ever knew:
    In all my doubts I fly to thee for guidance,
    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?

    Stir my heart while gazing on thy features
    With the old, old story, ever new –
    How our God has loved His sinful creatures:
    Then, dear Mother, show me what to do.

    Plead my cause, for what can He refuse thee,
    Get me back His saving grace anew.
    Ah! I know thou dost not wish to lose me,
    Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

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

    In thy guidance tranquilly reposing,
    Now I face my toils and cares anew:
    All through life, and at its painful closing,
    Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

  4. 4 Karinann October 15, 2009 at 19:34

    What a beautiful and amazing story. The picture, even here, does seem to change in expression depending on the angle from which you look. I like Ruben’s prayer.
    Thanks for stopping by earlier.
    God Bless!

  5. 5 Oranjinho October 15, 2009 at 19:39

    Nossa Senhora do Bom Conselho é a padroeira da Província Jesuíta do Brasil Central.

    Nossa Senhora do Bom Conselho, rogai por nós que recorremos a Vós!

  6. 6 Deanna October 15, 2009 at 20:50

    That’s a lovely prayer, Ruben.
    Thank you for sharing it.

    Here’s one written by a Pope:

    Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.
    Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.
    Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace.
    Pope Pius XII
    23 January 1953

  7. 7 Andrea October 15, 2009 at 23:25

    Teniamoci bene stretta l’italia e la sua cultura cristiana. Vigiliamo sempre sulla nostra fede e opponiamoci a tutti i tentativi massonici.
    Non permettiamo che l’italia diventi come l’inghilterra:siamo sempre vigilanti e ostinati!


  8. 8 Parunzein October 16, 2009 at 00:36

    Purtroppo, caro Andrea, l’Italia non è mica messa meglio! Niente crocefisso in posti pubblici, niente presepi in posti pubblici, niente di niente che abbia a che fare con la religione Cattolica.
    Hai visto ieri come hanno trattato la Binetti?
    E ti sei dimenticato il caso del giudice di l’Aquila?
    Dici: non permettiamo.
    E come, caro mio.
    L’Europa è un vero macello.
    Non c’è più etica, non c’è più moralità, non c’è più religione.
    I Cattolici sono una minoranza qui dove tutti sono battezzati Cattolici!
    E questa minoranza non può neanche dire come la pensa! Guai!
    Ti ricordi come hanno trattato il Papa quando ha detto la sacrosanta verità sulla storia islamica?
    E poi non l’hanno fatto parlare all’università!
    Uno schifo solenne, caro mio!

  9. 9 Mary Nicewarner October 16, 2009 at 00:58

    I have a prayer book that has a prayer to Our Lady Of Good Counsel and I turn to her when I need help. I didn’t know the story behind this title, though. The pictures are beautiful! Thank you for the birthday wishes and prayers, Gabriella 🙂 No wonder I felt so happy today! May God bless you always!

  10. 10 Korrigan October 16, 2009 at 01:03

    What an amazing story, Gabriella.
    I also wasn’t aware of the miracle behind the title Our Lady of Good Counsel and, like Mary, I have a prayer book with a prayer to her.
    Thank you.

  11. 11 nazareth priest October 16, 2009 at 01:07

    Gabriella: I love this icon of Our Lady and Our Lord. What beautiful expression of love and tenderness. Thank you.

  12. 12 anne bender October 16, 2009 at 02:16

    Wow! Gabriella, I think you know from reading my posts that I will be consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary this Saturday. The church where the consecration will take place is “Mother of Good Counsel”, and the book “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort that I have been using for my preparation, has this exact same picture on the cover!!!! What a beautiful coincidence! You have given me courage and joy with this post!

    Ruben, I love your prayer!

  13. 13 Asmarina October 16, 2009 at 07:57

    Ruben what a wonderful prayer – poem : I have another one that we sing in our school assembly :-

    Holy Virgin by God’s decree
    You were called eternally
    that You would give God’s Son to our race
    Mary we praise you
    Hail full of Grace

    Ave Ave Ave Maria

    By your sweet and loving accord
    as the handmaid of the Lord
    you undertook Gods plan to embrace
    Mary we thank you
    Hail full of Grace

    Ave Ave Ave Maria

    Refuge for your childfren so weak
    Sure protection all can seek
    Problems of Life you help us to face
    Mary we bless you
    Hail full of Grace

    Ave Ave Ave Maria

    To our needy world of today
    Love and beauty you portray
    Problems of life you help us to face
    Mary we praise you
    Hail full of Grace

    Ave Ave Ave Maria

  14. 14 Cinzia October 16, 2009 at 08:23

    Che tristezza Parunzein e Andrea … la nostra bellissima e amata patria! Cosa e’ successo?

    Io manco da tantissimi anni e non ci posso credere … pensavo che “schifo solenne” fosse l’Australia dove non esiste Dio, ne’ Gesu’ Cristo, ne’ la Madonna – un bel niente. Questo e’ un paese di pagani che odiano il cristianesimo e soprattutto la Chiesa Cattolica.

    Mo vedo che anche l’Italia, e tutta l’Europa e’ ridotta cosi allo stesso modo. Forse tutto il mondo, specie quello occidentale.

    O Clemente, O Pia, O dolce Vergine Maria … prega tu per noi e per il nostro amatissimo paese – che non vada completamente in rovina.

    Che bella preghiera Ruben – what a beautiful, wonderful prayer!

    E che bella storia Gabriella … forse da metterla sui giornali e mandarla alla TV per farla ricordare agli Italiani … per far capire loro che il patrimonio di fede e di arte e di tante cose stupende esiste soprattutto in Italia e da nessuna altra parte del mondo. Perche’ si vuole distruggere tutte queste bellezze e dimostrazioni di fede?

    Neanche un presepe in un posto pubblico? E pensare che i piu’ belli li ho visti proprio in Italia … ora il Santo Natale non vuol dire piu’ niente?

    Che tristezza 😦 Stiamo scivolando in un precipizio a passo spaventoso.

  15. 15 Cara October 16, 2009 at 11:30

    Thank you for this interesting post – With your permission, I will publish it in my journal.

    Here is another beautiful prayer:

    Also, you will note, by clicking on the left column where a list of articles appear, that there is one on Medjugorie – a must read!

  16. 16 Shania October 16, 2009 at 13:31

    Hi, I am Shania.
    I live in Malta.
    At my school we often discuss some of your writings.
    Thank you.

  17. 17 Andrea October 16, 2009 at 23:57

    E si,Parunzein,purtroppo anche in italia la situazione non è delle migliori,ma a differenza dell’inghilterra l’istituzionalizzazione dell’atteggiamento anticristiano è più lento. Ma alla fine tutto si ritorcerà contro coloro che non sanno quello che fanno. Ecco come si distrugge un Paese,una cultura,una nazione,un popolo,un umanesimo. Si distrugge lentamente. Con il veleno delle vipere suicide.

    Cinzia,non seguire nessuno di noi,segui solo Cristo nel vangelo,il Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica. Se vuoi una guida sicura ed infallibile procurati il libretto “L’Imitazione di Cristo”,che,dopo il vangelo,consiglierei di leggere a tutti. E non sono parole mie!


  18. 18 booklady October 17, 2009 at 02:12

    Thank you for the story Gabriella! I have this marvelous picture of Our Lady in my front room. I am staring at her now as I type these words. Our Lady of Good Counsel has been a great comfort and source of inspiration and strength to me these many years, but I never knew the background until now.

    God bless you!

  19. 19 Cinzia October 17, 2009 at 10:19

    Okay Andrea – vado a procurarmi il libretto consigliatomi.
    Buona domenica!

  20. 20 Feliks Wallenty, Denmark October 17, 2009 at 22:33

    Dedicated to all you readers of this beautiful blog:


  21. 21 Daily Grace October 20, 2009 at 18:01

    I have never heard this wonderful story before. Thank you so much for sharing God’s love with us. He is always faithfull to those who trust in Him. May our faith increase everyday.

    To Jesus through Mary

  22. 22 Pablo October 21, 2009 at 22:52

    Dear Gabriella,

    Great post.

    The spiritual food you are serving on your blog is nurishing many souls.

    God be with you.


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