Discernment for Life’s Decisions: Our Mother of Good Counsel

Our Mother of Good Counsel is a Marian devotion that dates to the 15th century. The Basilica honors Mary under this title in the Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel, which was dedicated 55 years ago. As we honor Mary as Our Mother of Good Counsel, we look to her for wisdom and guidance as we face difficult decisions in life.

The Tradition of Our Mother of Good Counsel

On the Feast of St. Mark in 1467, a cloud descended upon the ruins of a fifth-century church in Genazzano, Italy. Upon its disappearance, the people of the village discovered a small picture of the Madonna and Child on a thin sheet of plaster. The miraculous image remained delicately balanced on a ledge in the church for years, even surviving a bombing during World War II, and came to be known as Our Mother of Good Counsel.

mother of good counsel mosaic
Detail of the mosaic in the Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel

Our Mother of Good Counsel in the Basilica

The image is replicated in the Our Mother of Good Counsel mosaic in the Basilica’s Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel, portraying Mary as the Eleousa (Tender Touch). This type of Marian depiction shows her in a gentle, intimate pose, embracing the Christ Child. Around the mosaic are men and women who were devoted to Our Mother of Good Counsel, including St. Rita of Cascia, Blessed Stephen Bellesini, St. Augustine, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Paul II, and Petruccia dei Nocera. Carved into the altar of the chapel is the Augustinian seal of the burning heart, mitre, and crosier, with the command “Take and Read.” On the right of the altar, Our Mother of Good Counsel is sculpted in Trani marble.

Prayer to Our Mother of Good Counsel

Marble statue of Our Mother of Good Counsel
Marble statue of Our Mother of Good Counsel in the Basilica Chapel

The chapel at the Basilica contains the following prayer:

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 united in mind and heart as we go forward in joyful hope
toward the grace-filled freedom that 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, and to your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
and to the Holy Spirit, giver of all wisdom, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Life and Gospel of Saint Mark the Evangelist
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