Today is the optional memorial of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
On the Feast of Saint Mark, the Evangelist, April 25 1467, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a marvelous sight. A cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously.
Soon after the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Because of this, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved.
It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church was said to have arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion.
A commission of inquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see.
Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession.
Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. In 1682 Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it. In 1884 a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII.
For more than 500 years the image has continued to attract countless pilgrims.
Although much of the church was destroyed during World War II, the image has remained intact - and continues to be suspended miraculously.
Our Lady of Good Counsel is the patron saint of those seeking enlightenment.
O Mary of Good Counsel, inflame the hearts of all who are devoted to you, so that all of them have shelter in you, O great Mother of God. O most worthy Lady, let everyone choose you as teacher and wise counselor of their souls, since you are, as Saint Augustine says, the counsel of the Apostles and counsel of all peoples. Amen.