April 26 marks the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel – a day of great significance to Catholics from a number of parishes and backgrounds in our local family of faith.
Devotion to the Blessed Mother under this name can be traced to 15th century Italy. In 1467, an icon miraculously appeared at a church dedicated to the Mother of Good Counsel about 50 kilometers southeast of Rome, in Genazzano. Townspeople heard a beautiful melody and saw a cloud descend on the church. When the cloud dissipated, an image of Our Lady holding Jesus in her arms remained on a wall of the church. In the months that followed, 171 miracles were reported.
The fresco is 40 by 45 centimeters and is on a layer of porcelain about as thin as an egg shell. It is believed to have miraculously been transported there from a church in Scutari, Albania. An icon of Mary and Jesus that had been venerated there for centuries disappeared around the same time as the miraculous apparition of the same icon in Italy. The delicate image has survived several earthquakes and a World War II bombing.
Our Lady of Good Counsel original fresco from the church at Genazzano c. 1356Public domain photo, via Wikimedia Commons
Over time, devotion to the image gained formal recognition from Rome. Several popes have made pilgrimages to the church and dedicated their service to the Mother of Good Counsel over the past 400 years. The Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel was established by Pope Benedict XIV. Pope Leo XIII added the title "Mother of Good Counsel" to the Litany of Loreto.
In the Archdiocese of Toronto, Our Lady of Good Counsel holds prominence as patroness to the Augustinians, the Augustinian Sisters of Good Counsel, the Catholic Women's League and Our Lady of Good Counsel Caribbean Parish.
The Canadian St. Joseph's Province of Augustinians operate under the Midwest Augustinians Province of our Mother of Good Counsel. Augustinian brothers and priests serve in the archdiocese at the Marylake Shrine and Sacred Heart Parish, both located in King City. Marylake's beautiful 1,000-acre property is the site of a retreat centre and an outdoor rosary walk.
The Augustinian Sisters of Good Counsel are a religious order based in Mexico. Five sisters of this order serve the Marylake religious house in King City, where local Augustinians live and pray.
The Catholic Women's League of Canada adopted Our Lady of Good Counsel as its patroness in 1923. The league has had a long history of service in our archdiocese, with 98 councils and over 7,400 members. Recently, we have been very grateful for their work in promoting human dignity as they've advocated against the legalization of euthanasia in Canada and fought for conscience rights for doctors. Their prayers for life issues, vocations and much more provide spiritual sustenance to our archdiocese. The CWL is also well known for its hospitality in parishes and its promotion of the spiritual development of women.
Recently featured in the Catholic Register, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish (867 College St., Toronto) provides a spiritual home to the Caribbean Catholic community in Toronto. The parish brings together elements of Caribbean culture, such as upbeat music and Caribbean refreshments after Mass to create a "home away from home."
On this feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we ask for her intercession:
Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel: filled with the Holy Spirit, you were a faithful disciple of Jesus, your son. Intercede with your son for us that we may be faithful to our baptism, fervent in prayer, and generous in the service we give to our sisters and brothers. May the spirit of the living God, who graced you with the gift of counsel, lead us in the way of truth and love. With the help of your prayers, may we come to rejoice forever with you and the great company of saints in the kingdom of heaven. Amen
Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel: filled with the Holy Spirit, you were a faithful disciple of Jesus, your son.
Intercede with your son for us that we may be faithful to our baptism, fervent in prayer, and generous in the service we give to our sisters and brothers.
May the spirit of the living God, who graced you with the gift of counsel, lead us in the way of truth and love.
With the help of your prayers, may we come to rejoice forever with you and the great company of saints in the kingdom of heaven. Amen
Prayer from cwl.ca.
Marlena Loughheed is a Communications Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Public Relations and Communications.