The Catholic Defender: Next on Journey with Mary Deepertruth Podcast, “Mother of Good Counsel”


John Carpenter and I with our team at Deepertruth will present the following story live. 8:00 P.M. (20:00) Sunday Night 6 November 2022.


Help us dear mother, to know the mind of Jesus, your Son. May the Holy Spirit, fill us with reverence for God's creation, and compassion for all God's children. May our labors of love on earth enhance the reign of God; and may God's gifts of faith and living hope prepare us for the fullness of the world to come. Amen.


The Augustinians pray this prayer every morning as part of Morning Prayer as we recall our need for God’s help in the day ahead. Through this prayer we seek the counsel of the faith-filled life of Mary who herself faced uncertainty as she too journeyed along unfamiliar paths and challenging decisions towards God. The prayer also reminds us that we are on this journey together, and we ask God to keep us one in mind and heart as we journey through the day.

We turn to you, our Mother of Good Counsel,

as we seek to imitate your faith-filled life.


May we be led by the same Wisdom

which God sent forth from Heaven

to guide you along unfamiliar paths and through challenging decisions.


Keep us in mind and heart,

as we go forward in joyful hope

toward the grace-filled freedom that Saint Augustine recommends.


O Virgin, Mother of Good Counsel,

hear our prayer, as we look to you for guidance.


Pray for us to our loving and merciful Father,

to your Son, our Lord Jesus the Christ,

and to the Holy Spirit, giver of all Wisdom

one God forever and ever. Amen.

George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (1405–1467), also known as Iskander, or by his more colorful title, the Dragon of Albania, was a great warrior and leader of the people of Albania who fought against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into his kingdom.


An invincible opponent of Islam, the reason for his successes was no secret: he “loved the sanctuary of Mary with a devoted, enthusiastic love; and Mary in return, not only made him a model of Christian perfection, but also gave him an invincible power, which preserved not only Albania but also Christendom during his reign.”


There was at this time a miraculous painting located in the town of Scutari, which was the capital of Albania. Our Lady of Scutari, now known as Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of Genazzano, is an image of Our Lady holding her Divine Son which had been painted on a thin sheet of plaster by an unknown hand. This portrait, reputed to date from the time of the Apostles of Christ, was greatly venerated and beloved by the faithful Albanian people.


It was Our Lady of Scutari who had consoled and preserved Iskander through all his trials.


At the end of his life, physically exhausted from his labors, Iskander sensed that his death was near. Shortly after Iskander’s death, the Ottoman army invaded Albania again.

Without their invincible champion, it was only a matter of time before the capital was taken. The Blessed Virgin revealed to two pious men that her image would not be desecrated, and told them to prepare themselves for a long journey to follow the fresco when it left Albania. The picture then moved away from the wall, seemingly of its own accord, and floated into the air.


As the pair followed the image of Jesus and Mary, it was hidden in a cloud and went out over the waters of the Adriatic sea. Full of confidence in Our Lady, the men stepped upon the water, which miraculously supported them, and so they continued to follow the image until they made land along the coast of Italy. At that point they lost sight of the cloud.


It was not long before they learned where the image had gone.


The cloud was seen again by the people of Genazzano when they looked up into the sky to find the source of the heavenly music that suddenly reached their ears.


They watched dumbfounded as the little cloud descended and came to rest where it can still be seen today, floating before a wall of the Church of the Mother of Good Counsel in Genazzano.


The image indeed floats before the wall, for it is not attached or supported in any way.


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 Genazzano 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.


The town of Genazzano is home to the original fresco of Our Lady of Good Counsel. In earlier pagan times, it was a celebrated shrine for the worship of Venus until, in the fourth century, a church was built there in honor of Our Lady and it was named the Church of the Virgin Mother of Good Counsel. Over the ensuing years it fell into ruin…until an event in the mid-Fifteenth Century.

According to tradition, in the year 1467, in the midst of the festivities for the Feast of Saint Mark, the residents of the town suddenly heard beautiful music.


A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended and obscured an unfinished wall of the parish church. Then, as everyone watched, the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco appeared, no thicker than a post card and only about 18 inches square, of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.


This event naturally led to increased devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel. In 1630 Pope Urban VIII made a pilgrimage to the shrine, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven. Other Popes to travel here included Pope Pius IX as well as Pope Innocent XI who, in 1682, had the picture solemnly crowned.


On April 25, 1467, the small town of Genazzano was commemorating the feast of St. Mark. Divine Providence had something special in store for this day. About four o’clock in the afternoon, the people who had gathered in Santa Maria Piazza witnessed a truly heavenly spectacle.


“What is that silvery cloud, moving swiftly across the sky and emitting splendorous rays? Where does it come from and where is it going?”


“And those angelic voices? What marvellous music! We have never heard anything like it!”


The puzzlement and excitement of the inhabitants of Genazzano mounted as they watched a luminous cloud gradually descend from the sky and settle alongside an unfinished wall of an old church which was being rebuilt.


This church, for centuries dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel, was under the care of the religious of St. Augustine.


“Suddenly”—a historian narrates—“the bells of the high campanile, which stood before their eyes, began to peal, though they could see and knew that no human hand touched them. And then, in unison, every church bell in the town began to answer in peals as festive. The crowd were spellbound, ravished, and yet full of holy feeling. With eager haste, they filled the enclosure. They pressed around the spot where the cloud remained.

“Gradually, the rays of light ceased to dart, the cloud began to clear gently away; and then, to their astonishment, there remained disclosed a most beautiful object. It was an image of Our Lady, holding the divine Child Jesus in her arms, and she seemed to smile upon them and to say, ‘Fear not I am your Mother, and you are and shall be my beloved children.’”

Where had this miraculous fresco come from? In view of such a miracle, some promptly said: “From Paradise!” But, as we shall see, it was not long before the enigma was solved, through two Albanian soldiers who arrived in Rome in search of the portrait of their beloved Patroness.


Since the thirteenth century, this fresco had been venerated in Albania under the invocation of Our Lady of Good Offices. Of unknown authorship, many people to this day do not hesitate to affirm that it is the work of Angels.

In 1467, with the death of the Albanian prince Scanderbeg, there remained no one capable of curbing the advance of enemy hordes which devastated Catholic Albania. It is said that upon learning of his death, Sultan Mehmed II exclaimed: “Finally, Europe and Asia are mine. Disaster has struck Christianity! She has lost her sword and her shield!” Albania gradually succumbed, and all those who desired to remain steadfast in the Faith were obliged to choose between fleeing the country or dying in the confrontation with the invading forces.

But—alas!—it had to be admitted that devotion had grown cold. Schism worked its blighting way in Albania. The morals of the people decayed with the purity of their religion. Devotion to Our Lady languished even in Scutari itself. The Turkish invasion, a clear punishment sent from Heaven, could not call the mass of the population to repentance. As a writer on the subject feelingly complains, ‘the young men and maidens no longer delighted to place flowers on the altar of Mary of Scutari; and therefore, their punishment could not be far distant.’”

In this desolate situation, two Albanian soldiers were praying before Our Lady of Scutari when the fresco detached itself from the wall and commenced a miraculous voyage, heading toward the Adriatic Sea.


Gripped with holy enthusiasm, the two followed her, first on solid ground, and then striking out to sea, walking on the water!


In this way, without losing sight of the venerated image, they reached the Italian Peninsula. But when they came to the outskirts of Rome, they were plunged into perplexity when their beloved Mother disappeared from sight… Where had she gone? While they searched for Our Lady of Scutari in the Eternal City, the miraculous fresco continued on to Genazzano…


This city, located 47km from Rome, was the site chosen by Providence to serve as the treasury for the precious image of the Mother of Good Counsel.


Nestled in a mountain range, Genazzano stands out for its charming simplicity. Compassed about by centuries-old Roman or medieval walls, its enchanting churches are the hideout for artistic treasures; narrow and winding streets offer a host of surprises; humble dwellings with palatial airs captivate pilgrims; the castle of the noble Colonna family still displays the architectural lines drawn up by Cardinal Odonne Colonna, later Pope Martin V (1417-1431); and friendly inhabitants vie with one another in showing devotion to the Madonna


Several years before the arrival of the holy fresco, the Blessed Virgin had revealed to a Genazzano widow—the Augustinian tertiary Petruccia de Nocera—in dreams, her decision to leave Scutari and settle in this secluded corner of Latium. Accordingly, the spiritual daughter of St. Augustine undertook the task of rebuilding the dilapidated and abandoned church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, with the goal of making it worthy to receive her.

The fresco leaves Albania, by Prospero Piatti – Shrine of the Mother of Good Counsel, Genazzano (Italy)

Petruccia began by applying all of her inheritance to the rebuilding of the church; then, to bolster her dwindling resources, she sold her personal belongings, keeping just enough to live. But despite her generosity, she barely managed to erect a few walls… scoffing and mockery greeted the “crazy visionary” who had squandered all her belongings. Undaunted, she trusted in the promise of the Lady who was to come, affirming: “Do not worry, my little children; before I die”—she was by this time of an advanced age—“the Blessed Virgin and St. Augustine will complete the restoration work on this church.”


What joy Petruccia must have felt as she witnessed the miraculous arrival of the fresco of Mary in Genazzano, coming to rest alongside one of the church’s walls. She joyfully repeated the phrase of the Apostle: “Hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5)! We say alongside, for the fresco did not attach itself to the wall, but remained suspended in the air, above the ground, without being fastened from behind, as the historian Raffaele Buonanno confirms: “All these marvels are ultimately summed up in the continuous prodigy that, until today, the image remains in the same place and manner as when it was left there by the cloud on the day of its appearance, in the presence of all the people, whose joy it was to see it for the first time. The fresco hovered not a great height from the ground, at approximately a finger’s width from the new and rustic wall of the chapel of St. Blaise, and there it remained, suspended without any support.”


A number of faithful souls at once arose, eager to finish the rebuilding of the church, rendering it a fitting dwelling place of the Madonna del Paradiso, the Lady of Genazzano or Mother of Good Counsel, as she came to be known, since she had settled in a church with this invocation.


With the passing of the years, the original church was gradually transformed into a beautiful basilica visited by numerous devotees.

Fervent pilgrims cross the threshold and hasten directly to Our Lady’s altar, where they remain in filial colloquies with the Queen of Heaven, or simply wrapt in wonder by her maternal expression.

Contemplating the image of Mary with the Child Jesus, we see that His “right arm encircles the noble and delicate neck of His Mother in a gesture of intense affection. His left hand securely clasps the upper portion of her dress as if to say, ‘Thou art all Mine!’”6 And the Mother, “even while in sublime adoration of her Son, as though seeking to penetrate His thoughts, still regards the faithful kneeling at her feet. As Mediatrix of all graces, she welcomes their prayers and presents them to God Our Lord.

Ever since her miraculous arrival in Italy, the Madonna of Genazzano has not ceased to work spiritual and physical miracles on behalf of those who devoutly commend themselves to her protection. Proof of this are the reports in the Codex of Miracles, a compendium of miraculous episodes occasioned by the intercession of Our Lady of Genazzano.

There are countless instances of lame, paralytic and the blind persons who were entirely cured of their infirmities upon stepping into the chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel. In the 110 days following the arrival of Our Lady, 161 miracles were recorded!8

In addition to the impressive cures, there are reports of exorcisms, and apparitions of Our Lady to those who pray confidently to the Mother of Good Counsel, even at great distances from Genazzano.


This codex recounts the episode of a nobleman, Lord Antonietto de Castelnuovo, who, dejected at the sudden death of his faithful servant, Constantino de Carolis, gave vent to his sorrow in a flood of tears. He finally cast himself on the floor beside the body and exclaimed: “O Most Holy Virgin of Genazzano, I implore thee, if it be for the best, beseech God on my behalf to return my servant, and I promise to bring him to Genazzano before thy holy image.”9

The sovereign Empress of Heaven, Mary, the Most Holy Mother of Good Counsel was pleased to heed this ardent and sorrowful supplication, made with such lively faith. At that very instant, all present were astonished to see the servant raise his head, open his eyes and assume a sitting position. He himself appearing to be startled. He looked at his grieving master and, regaining the use of his speech, he said: “Out of charity, give me a little something to eat.”10 He then stood up and, addressing those who surrounded him, declared himself to be cured and free from any discomfort or suffering.

Without delay, they both joyfully set out on the road to Genazzano to offer thanks before the holy fresco for such a great favour.


Ever since arriving in Genazzano, the Holy Fresco has remained inexplicably suspended in the air close to one of the walls of the church, without, however, touching it. The chief historians of the Shrine offer the following reports.

Fr. Angelo Maria De Orgio, OSA, wrote in the eighteenth century: “The celestial painting was upheld by divine power one finger’s distance from the wall, suspended without being fastened to it, and this is a miracle all the more stupendous if we consider that the image in question is painted in vivid colours on a fine layer of plaster, with which it separated itself from the church in Scutari, Albania. And it is, moreover, a fact proven by experiment and by observation that, when touched, the holy image yields.”

In the following century, Fr. Raffael Buonanno pointed out, as we have seen, the “continuous prodigy that, until today, the image remains in the same place and manner as when it was left there by the cloud on the day of its appearance […] The fresco hovered not a great height from the ground, at approximately a finger’s width from the new and rustic wall of the chapel of St. Blaise, and there it remained, suspended without any support.

And Msgr. George F. Dillon, after extensive research, confirms with absolute assurance: “1) that the holy image has never withdrawn from the position which it so miraculously chose; and 2) that all those who have examined it over the course of the centuries have attested that they consider it to be completely isolated, without any support whatsoever.”


St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, guarded as his greatest treasure a painting of the Mother of Good Counsel which, upon his writing desk, presided over his prolific work of over a hundred books covering delicate theological and moral questions.

Fr. Dillon recounts that the spiritual daughters whom St. Alphonsus guided along the ways of perfection for many years, requested a memento of him when they learned that he would soon depart for eternity. He sent them his beloved painting, with this message: “I leave you my heart.”

While devotion to the miraculous fresco is most well known in Italy, the invocation has spread worldwide. There are devotees of the Mother of Good Counsel in all of Europe, as well as in Brazil and in several other countries of the Americas.

Many Popes and Saints have borne a deep filial affection for Our Lady of Good Counsel, including St. Pius V, Urban VIII, Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II, St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Blessed Stefano Bellesini—parish priest of Genazzano and a great devotee of the Queen of Good Counsel —, and St. John Bosco among others.


This codex recounts the episode of a nobleman, Lord Antonietto de Castelnuovo, who, dejected at the sudden death of his faithful servant, Constantino de Carolis, gave vent to his sorrow in a flood of tears. He finally cast himself on the floor beside the body and exclaimed: “O Most Holy Virgin of Genazzano, I implore thee, if it be for the best, beseech God on my behalf to return my servant, and I promise to bring him to Genazzano before thy holy image.”

The sovereign Empress of Heaven, Mary, the Most Holy Mother of Good Counsel was pleased to heed this ardent and sorrowful supplication, made with such lively faith. At that very instant, all present were astonished to see the servant raise his head, open his eyes and assume a sitting position. He himself appearing to be startled. He looked at his grieving master and, regaining the use of his speech, he said: “Out of charity, give me a little something to eat.” He then stood up and, addressing those who surrounded him, declared himself to be cured and free from any discomfort or suffering.

Without delay, they both joyfully set out on the road to Genazzano to offer thanks before the holy fresco for such a great favour.


Several years before the arrival of the holy fresco, the Blessed Virgin had revealed to a Genazzano widow—the Augustinian tertiary Petruccia de Nocera—in dreams, her decision to leave Scutari and settle in this secluded corner of Latium. Accordingly, the spiritual daughter of St. Augustine undertook the task of rebuilding the dilapidated and abandoned church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, with the goal of making it worthy to receive her.

The fresco leaves Albania, by Prospero Piatti – Shrine of the Mother of Good Counsel, Genazzano (Italy)

Petruccia began by applying all of her inheritance to the rebuilding of the church; then, to bolster her dwindling resources, she sold her personal belongings, keeping just enough to live. But despite her generosity, she barely managed to erect a few walls… scoffing and mockery greeted the “crazy visionary” who had squandered all her belongings. Undaunted, she trusted in the promise of the Lady who was to come, affirming: “Do not worry, my little children; before I die”—she was by this time of an advanced age—“the Blessed Virgin and St. Augustine will complete the restoration work on this church.”

What joy Petruccia must have felt as she witnessed the miraculous arrival of the fresco of Mary in Genazzano, coming to rest alongside one of the church’s walls. She joyfully repeated the phrase of the Apostle: “Hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5)! We say alongside, for the fresco did not attach itself to the wall, but remained suspended in the air, above the ground, without being fastened from behind, as the historian Raffaele Buonanno confirms: “All these marvels are ultimately summed up in the continuous prodigy that, until today, the image remains in the same place and manner as when it was left there by the cloud on the day of its appearance, in the presence of all the people, whose joy it was to see it for the first time. The fresco hovered not a great height from the ground, at approximately a finger’s width from the new and rustic wall of the chapel of St. Blaise, and there it remained, suspended without any support.”