We home schooling parents are constantly faced with decisions about our children and about their daily schooling assignments, but also about running the household, scheduling doctors’ appointments, running errands, getting the laundry done, preparing meals.
We daily need the good counsel of the Blessed Mother, certainly the perfect role model for all of us home schooling parents. Many of us parents have adopted the devotion of Our Mother of Good Counsel. This title for her is based on a miraculous painting or fresco that suddenly appeared free standing, suspended in mid-air above a church wall, in 1467, in the small Italian town of Gennazano, thirty miles from Rome. It was later learned that the painting was miraculously transported from a shrine in Albania.
A wealthy widow, Petruccia, lived in the town of Genazzano in the 1400s. She received a vision from the Blessed Mother who asked her to use her money to repair the parish church, Our Lady of Good Counsel, which was in ruins. Petruccia was hoping that the members of the church would help her rebuild the church, but because they did not help, she eventually ran out of money. Nevertheless, at eighty years of age, Petruccia never gave up believing that the Blessed Mother would help her rebuild the church.
On Saturday evening, on April 25, 1467, while the town was having a festival, a white cloud appeared over the parish church. The citizens saw the large white cloud stationary above the church, and they heard beautiful music coming from the cloud. It was reported that all the bells in the town began to ring. Slowly the cloud opened up, and a beautiful fresco of the Blessed Mother and the Baby Jesus slowly floated down from the cloud and rested itself, free-standing, above a short wall, a part of the uncompleted side chapel. The citizens immediately began proclaiming, “A miracle! Our Mother of Good Counsel!”
There followed many miraculous cures, the church was quickly rebuilt, and many processions and devotions were started in the church as people prayed to the Blessed Mother to ask her intercession with her Baby Son.
The painting of Our Mother of Good Counsel is a bright fresco done on a very thin sheet of plaster, the consistency of an egg shell, still free-standing. No one has been able to identify the substance of the “paint.” The fresco is in soft colors, filled with the two faces of the Blessed Mother and Child, with beautiful red colors dominating, and with a simple rainbow over their heads. The Baby’s face is unusual in the adult look in the eyes, mouth, and nose. The Blessed Mother has a strong nose and mouth, and beautiful almond- shaped eyes.
After the appearance of the fresco, the church was rebuilt, and in 1956, a small chapel was built around the miraculous painting. A professional Catholic photographer, with a special love for Our Mother of Good Counsel, wrote a book about this fresco and donated to Seton his remarkable photograph of the painting which now appears on the cover of Catholic Home Schooling.
The holy Pope Pius XII composed a prayer to Our Mother of Good Counsel in 1953: “Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our earthly sojourn when the twin darkness of error and of evil plot our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.
“Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good. Strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin. Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand, we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus Our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.”