Our Lady Of Good Counsel
The sanctuary of Our Mother of Good Counsel, upon a hill to the northeast of Rome, tells the story of Mary’s solicitude and concern for her human family. Shortly after the conversion of the Lateran into the Basilica of the Savior, a church dedicated to Mary began its work of purifying the hill once given over to licentiousness (the shrine of the goddess Venus). April 25 was dedicated to the budding harvest. At Geniazano, Christians instituted a feast in honor of St. Mary of Good Counsel for the same purpose.
During the centuries the church fell into decay; the Franciscans took over the ruins and obtained help from a widow who gave all of her possessions for rebuilding it; yet it remained unfinished. In the midst of the fun of the carnival day, the feast of St. Mark, people saw a cloud heading their way; on it came until it reached the church where, after it clung, it revealed a picture of Our Lady with the Child Jesus in her arms. It was hailed clamorously with “Viva Maria.” The church was completed within three months after this. The people claimed the picture from Heaven and called it “Our Lady of Paradise”. Two strange Christians arrived one day from Albania—across the Adriatic—and said it belonged to their homeland, where it had been venerated far and wide, but the love of the Virgin had grown cold, and the picture had disappeared.
A hundred years later Pope Paul III had the picture studied and authenticated; Innocent IX had it crowned; many other Popes have granted favors to the shrine. As late as 1936 a commission formed to study the picture, reported, if struck a slight blow it reacts as if it were hollow; if set in motion, it oscillates visibly. Pope Leo XIII raised the sanctuary to the dignity of a basilica and had the invocation, “Mother of Good Counsel” added to the Litany of Loreto. Pope Pius IX had a great devotion to Our Lady under this title; he offered his first Mass before its image; in 1864 he made a pilgrimage to Beniazano to have counsel of her who is “Seat of Wisdom”. He kept her image in his study and fostered a cult to Mary under this title; thus he exemplified the filial confidence of all true sons of Mary.