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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. 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, as far as Brazil. 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 was built in Genazzano and was later entrusted to the Augustinian Order in 1356.
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.
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. Among her noted clients have been St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Liguori, St John Bosco, and Blessed Stephen Bellesini.
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. 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.
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.
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