Catholic Dictionary




A shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel in a small town thirty miles southeast of Rome. It possesses a famed picture of the Blessed Virgin and Child. The story of Genazzano goes back to 1467. A native widow, though having no funds, expressed the desire to rebuild an abandoned Church of Our Lady, dating from the fifth century. Without any means to carry out her plan, she was ridiculed by the townspeople until on St. Mark's day of that year, while the entire village was celebrating a public carnival, the town was mysteriously darkened though the sky remained clear. Before thousands of witnesses, when light returned a small picture of the Virgin Mother and Child was found on the foundation walls of the unfinished church. The bells of the village rang by themselves. Awed and in fear, the people awaited the verdict of a disinterested bishop who had been sent by Pope Paul II to verify the facts. His report stated that between April and mid August of 1467, he had witnessed one hundred seventy-one miracles at Genazzano. The picture was called The Madonna of Paradise. A papal committee found that the Genazzano picture had been painted on a thin layer of porcelain, of eggshell thinness, and could never have been moved human hands. The image stands today in front of the tabernacle of the altar resting on a ledge without support. A basilica was finished in the late fifteenth century, and devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel spread throughout the world. The day of discovery of the little picture is kept with a procession of spectacular pageantry yearly, and a feast day for Our Lady of Good Counsel is on the Church's calendar. During World War II Genazzano was bombed, the basilica hit, the roof completely crushed, the interior, including altars, paintings, and statues, completely destroyed. Only the treasured picture of the Madonna was unharmed.