The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

26th of April - Feast of Our Mother of Good Counsel - Patroness of the Irish Augustinian Province

The 26th of April is the feast of Our Mother of Good Counsel.  Under this title Mary is invoked as the Patroness of the Irish Province of Augustinians.  The Irish Augustinian association with this picture is likely to be related to friars having bought a “villa” in the Italian town of Genazzano.  While this would seem like an inordinate expense nowadays, San Pio (a church and convent founded in 1461 by Pope Pius II and dedicated to Pope St. Pius I – built, in fact, on the site of a summer residence of one of the emperors of ancient Rome) was bought for a very particular reason.  

Before the walls of the river Tiber were built under the rule of Mussolini, Rome was a very insalutary place, particularly in the summer time.  The heat and the river combined to make Rome a particularly bad place for mosquitoes and the diseases that are borne by them.  To have a house in the mountains outside Rome was considered essential for the health of the students who were preparing for priesthood in the city and were unable to return to Ireland during the summers.  The Irish College, as well as the English, Scots and German Colleges (and many others) all had such residences which, as well as being summer residences, were also used for retreats for the students and other activities.  The Irish Augustinians ended up in Genazzano and became part of the history of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel.  The Irish friars were responsible for spreading devotion in many parts of the world to Our Lady under this title.

In the fifth century, during the papacy of Pope Sixtus III, the town of Genazzano—about 30 miles south of Rome—had been very generous in their support for the Roman basilica now known as Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major). In appreciation for their generosity, a church was built in Genazzano and was later entrusted to the Augustinian Order.

According to tradition, on the Feast of St. Mark (April 25) in 1467, the townsfolk heard “exquisite music” coming from the area of the church. A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended over an unfinished wall of the parish church. In front of the townsfolk gathered there, the cloud dissipated—and there on the wall appeared a small but beautiful fresco of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.

The people of the time believed that the work had been miraculously transported from Albania. They attributed to it healing properties, and many miracles were believed to have occurred in its presence.

The holy image had such a reputation that Pope Urban VIII made a pilgrimage there in 1630, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven. In 1682, Blessed Pope Innocent XI had the picture solemnly crowned. In 1864, Pope Piux IX visited the fresco; others who have been devoted to Our Lady of Good Counsel include St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. John Bosco.

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.[2] 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. Leo XIII also added the invocation Mater boni consilii in the Litany of Loreto.

In 1939, Venerable Pope Pius XII called on Our Lady of Good Counsel to protect and care for his pontificate. He composed a devotional prayer to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel.  The last pope to visit the image was Pope John Paul II.

An interesting thing to note is that the façade of the modern basilica shows a particular Irish connection.  Over the main door the miraculous story of the arrival of the image in Genazzano is portrayed.  The Augustinian friars who are depicted are, in fact, all Irish.  They were students from San Pio who were used as models by the artist.  It is difficult to see in the photo below but when you next visit Genazzano you will be able to check it out.


Article posted on 24th of April 2013

Click here for a printable version of this page
Web Analytics