Our Lady of Good Counsel and the Miraculous Painting in Genazzano
A Statue of Our Lady of Good Counsel
How this devotion came to be
Each year, on April 26, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is honored under this title because of a painting that has come to rest in a church in Genazzano, Italy, a town outside of Rome.
In 1467, people in Genazzano were celebrating the feast of Saint Mark, observed on April 25. According to eye witnesses, the crowd heard beautiful music that seemed to come from the sky. Looking upward, they saw a bright cloud hovering over their town.
The cloud then descended upon a dilapidated church that was named Our Lady of Good Counsel. One woman who lived in Genazzano had been praying to this building restored. A wealthy widow, she had used her own funds for this purpose.
Then, the church bells started to ring. The cloud disappeared. But what remained was a lovely painting of Mary with Baby Jesus, who snuggled against her face and wrapped his little arm around her neck.
The painting, apparently, was deposited by the mysterious cloud.
Many people came to pray before this painting, which resembles a Byzantine-style icon. These visitors began to report cures and other favors.
Also, the elderly woman's prayers were answered. Many people started donating money to repair the church.
Miraculous Images of Our Lady
Two Albanians travel to Italy
The people of Genazzano still didn't know where the picture came from. But their questions were answered when two men from Albania came to town.
Their country had been invaded by Turks, forcing many Christians to flee. These gentlemen didn't want to leave Albania because they were very attached to their local church and to a painting of Mary and Jesus.
Praying before the painting for guidance and counsel, the men asked for discernment on whether or not they should leave their homeland.
During their sleep, they received visions that instructed them to flee and follow a cloud.
This they did, following the cloud over land and sea. They told the people of Genazzano they were able to walk across the Adriatic Sea, all the way to Rome.
The cloud disappeared once they reached Rome. But they heard the happy news that a cloud had been spotted in a town about 30 miles away. The two men hurried to Genazzano.
The town of Genazzano
The story checks out
Although the story of these men is hard to fathom, especially in an age when relatively few people believe in God, and we don't hear about such extraordinary events, it doesn't conflict with the townspeople's report of a cloud descending and leaving a beautiful picture behind.
Also, such a picture did once exist in a church in Sculari, Albania, where the men said they came from.
Several popes have approved of devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Urban VIII traveled to Genazzano to pray before the painting. Other pontiff's, including Pope Leo XIII promulgated this devotion.
The painting itself is miraculous, even without its means of transport and the many reported cures.
No one knows how the painting hangs in the chapel where it's located, as it seems to be suspended in air with about an inch of space behind it. One side of it rests on a small ledge, but this isn't enough to support it.
The image is painted on a paper-thin piece of plaster that somehow survived a long flight and a bombing of the church in Genazzano during World War II. The church sustained heavy damage, but somehow this delicate picture of Mary holding baby Jesus didn't shatter.
Video on the miraculous image
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