Our Lady of Good Counsel


Our Lady of Good Counsel

The apparition of Our Lady of Good Counsel is so celebrated, Her picture so well known and so honored in the Church, that it is very fitting to allot a place to this devotion.

The little city of Gennazano, situated on the mountains of the former Sabina province, about ten leagues from Rome, for a thousand years already had honored the Blessed Virgin asOur Lady of Good Counsel.

In the 15thcentury, the church of that city was dilapidated and about to collapse.

A pious woman of advanced age named Petruccia desired to provide for its reconstruction, but the gift of her entire fortune, which she made for this purpose, proved insufficient.

Petruccia foretold that the Blessed Virgin would Herself finish the work.

Then on April 25, 1467, at the hour of Vespers, a celestial harmony was heard in the air, and the crowd saw a brilliant cloud coming down through the air, which came to rest over the altar in the Chapel of Saint Blaise in the Gennazano Church, where the restoration had begun.

At the same time, all the church bells began to ring joyously.

The cloud disappeared, and the marveling crowd saw a picture of Mary holding the Child Jesus, painted on a prepared surface, suspended in the air over the altar near the wall, without any natural support.

It was duly verified that this picture had been miraculously transported from a church of Scutari, a city of Albania.

Providence, wishing to preserve it from profanation by the Turks who were controlling that land, sent it as a reward for the faith of Petruccia and her fellow citizens of Gennazano.

A history of the marvels of all kinds which have been wrought since that time near this miraculous picture, suspended in the air, would require volumes.

Often the picture has been seen to change its expression, the eyes of the Blessed Virgin taking on an appearance of joy or sorrow.

How many illnesses and infirmities have been cured!

How many spiritual graces have been obtained!

Gennazano in Italy is still a venerated pilgrimage site, much frequented by the people of that land, and many pious pilgrims from other nations, when time permits it for them, arrange to visit this blessed sanctuary.

The Sovereign Pontiffs have granted many indulgences to devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel, and the title Mother of Good Counselwas included in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin by Pope Leo XIII.

(SOURCE: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).)


Lord Shepard 2

“Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd.

A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.

This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.

These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.

I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.

This command I have received from my Father.”” -John 10:11-18.



Saint Benedict Menni
Priest, O.H.,
Founder of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Benedict Menni, who is being raised to the altars today, was a faithful follower of Saint John of God and, through his words and deeds, was a Herald of the Gospel of Mercy and a new Prophet of Hospitality.

His origins and his Hospitaller vocation

The city of Milan was his cradle: he was born there on 11 March 1841 and baptized the same day. He was named Angelo Ercole, almost as a portent of the Herculean spirit and strength that was to characterize his whole personality.

He was the fifth of 15 children born to Luigi Menni and Luisa Figini. His warm and hospitable home gave him the support and stimulus he needed to develop his intellectual powers and his personality. God’s call came early on: faithful to his conscience, he gave up a good position in a bank, and with his selfless attitude to the suffering he volunteered to work as a stretcher-bearer to assist the soldiers wounded on the battlefield at Magenta, near Milan.

Attracted by the spirit of dedication and self-denial which he discovered in the Brothers of St John of God, at the age of 19 he applied to enter the Hospitaller Order. He began his Religious life taking the name Benedict, and consecrated himself to God and to the care of the sick. And today we venerate him with the same name: Saint Benedict Menni.

His Hospitaller formation and mission

It was during his nursing and priestly studies that his Religious Hospitaller personality was gradually fashioned, which he placed at the disposal of his Superiors, embracing the cause of helping the most needy members of society, so many of whom were sick.

At that time Spain, the cradle of the Hospitaller Order, was embroiled in political strife, with open hostility to all the Religious Orders, and the work of St John of God was practically dead. It needed a new lease of life, and Benedict Menni was to be the man of providence to bring it about.

He was sent to Spain in 1867, and it was there that he performed his two great works: he restored the Order of St John of God and founded the Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thanks to his magnanimous spirit, his great capabilities and state of mind, he overcame many difficulties and did so much good to help the sick, providing them with comprehensive care.

The Restorer of the Hospitaller Order

Sent to Spain by the Prior General of the Order, Fr Giovanni M. Alfieri, who always supported him, and with the blessing of Pope Visitor and Prior General of the Order Pius IX, even before he left Rome Benedict Menni demonstrated a will of iron and a determined spirit. Only a few months after his arrival in Spain he set up his first children’s hospital in Barcelona (1867), marking the beginning of his extraordinary work of restoration, which he was to carry through over the next 36 years.

From the first moment, thanks to his commitment to his vocation, numerous generous followers rallied around him, and it was through them that he was able to guarantee continuity to his new Hospitaller institutions that were springing up in Spain, Portugal and Mexico, to spread subsequently throughout the New World.

The Founder of the Hospitaller Sisters

When he arrived in Granada (1878), Benedict Menni came in contact with two young women, Maria Josefa Recio and Maria Angtistias Gimenez, who set up a new women’s hospital specifically to provide psychiatric care in 1881.

It was at Ciempozuelos, Madrid, that the Mother House of the “Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” was founded, receiving the approval of the Holy See in 1901. Six words summarize their identity in the Hospitaller service: “pray, work, endure, suffer, a love God and silence”.

The new Institution soon spread its wings of merciful charity by becoming established in several countries in Europe and Latin America, and later on in Africa and Asia. At the present time, as the Congregation celebrates the canonization of its founder, Benedict Menni, the Sisters are present in 24 countries, with over 100 Hospitaller Centres.

Benedict Menni, their Founder and spiritual Father, imbued them with his own charismatic spirit of St John of God and for over 30 years continued to provide them with his guidance and formation in Hospitaller ascetics.

Visitor and Prior General of the Order

The opera magna wrought by Benedict Menni as a Restorer and Founder spread, at the request of the Holy See, to the whole Order when he was appointed Apostolic Visitor (1909-1911) and subsequently Prior General (1911), which he had to resign one year later as a result of misunderstandings, and for health reasons.

He spent the last two years of his life in humility and purification, and died a holy death at Dinan, France, on 24 April 1914. His mortal remains were taken by the Spanish Brothers to Ciempozuelos, and today are venerated under the high altar in the Founders’ Chapel in the Hospitaller Sisters’ Mother House there.

In the glory of the saints

The process to acknowledge his holiness opened in the diocese of Madrid where he is buried, in 1945-1947, and his virtues were recognized as heroic by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on 11 May 1982, so that he was able to be called ” Venerable”. After official acceptance of the miraculous healing of Asuncion Cacho thanks to his intercession, he was proclaimed “Blessed” in St Peter’s Basilica on June 23, 1985 and « Saint » on November 21, 1999 by Pope John Paul II.

His message of Hospitality

In addition to his total dedication which bore such fruit, his holy and sanctifying conduct, his life offered entirely to God and to the sick with total generosity, the witness borne by Benedict Menni has regained all its topical relevance today with his canonization, which is offering him to the universal Church as a model and an example to be followed, particularly by those working in health care.

Humanization and evangelization are challenges to the new millennium. St Benedict Menni recalls to us and enlightens the words of our Lord, “I was sick and you visited me… Come, O blessed of my Father”.

Health care uses the benefits brought by scientific and technological progress, but frequently it is the “heart” which is missing in patient care. Health care is often concerned more with the sickness than the sick, who are often viewed as numbers or clinical cases rather than as brothers and sisters to be cared for and ministered to, as persons made in the image of a suffering God.

(SOURCE:  – Libreria Editrice Vaticana)




(Patron Saint of Soldiers)

        St. George was born in Cappadocia, at the close of the third century, of Christian parents. In early youth he chose a soldier’s life, and soon obtained the favor of Diocletian, who advanced him to the grade of tribune.

When, however, the emperor began to persecute the Christians, George rebuked him at once sternly and openly for his cruelty, and threw up his commission.

He was in consequence subjected to a lengthened series of torments, and finally beheaded.

There was something so inspiriting in the defiant cheerfulness of the young soldier, that every Christian felt a personal share in this triumph of Christian fortitude; and as years rolled on St. George became a type of successful combat against evil, the slayer of the dragon, the darling theme of camp song and story, until “so thick a shade his very glory round him made” that his real lineaments became hard to trace.

Even beyond the circle of Christendom he was held in honor, and invading Saracens taught themselves to except from desecration the image of him they hailed as the “White-horsed Knight.”

The devotion to St. George is one of the most ancient and widely spread in the Church. In the East, a church of St. George is ascribed to Constantine, and his name is invoked in the most ancient liturgies; whilst in the West, Malta, Barcelona, Valencia, Arragon, Genoa, and England have chosen him as their patron.
(SOURCE: Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894])



“Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

I am the bread of life.

Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”” -John 6:44-51.


Saint Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury


Saint Anselm was a native of Piedmont. When as a boy of fifteen he was forbidden to enter religion after the death of his good Christian mother, for a time he lost the fervor she had imparted to him.

He left home and went to study in various schools in France; at length his vocation revived, and he became a monk at Bec in Normandy, where he had been studying under the renowned Abbot Lanfranc.

The fame of his sanctity in this cloister led King William Rufus of England, when dangerously ill, to take him for his confessor and afterwards to name him to the vacant see of Canterbury to replace his own former master, Lanfranc, who had been appointed there before him.

He was consecrated in December, 1093. Then began the strife which characterized Saint Anselm’s episcopate.

The king, when restored to health, lapsed into his former sins, continued to plunder the Church lands, scorned the archbishop’s rebukes, and forbade him to go to Rome for the pallium.

Finally the king sent envoys to Rome for the pallium; a legate returned with them to England, bearing it.

The Archbishop received the pallium not from the king’s hand, as William would have required, but from that of the papal legate.

For Saint Anselm’s defense of the Pope’s supremacy in a Council at Rockingham, called in March of 1095, the worldly prelates did not scruple to call him a traitor.

The Saint rose, and with calm dignity exclaimed, If any man pretends that I violate my faith to my king because I will not reject the authority of the Holy See of Rome, let him stand, and in the name of God I will answer him as I ought.

No one took up the challenge; and to the disappointment of the king, the barons sided with the Saint, for they respected his courage and saw that his cause was their own.

During a time he spent in Rome and France, canons were passed in Rome against the practice of lay investiture, and a decree of excommunication was issued against offenders.

When William Rufus died, another strife began with William’s successor, Henry I.

This sovereign claimed the right of investing prelates with the ring and crozier, symbols of the spiritual jurisdiction which belongs to the Church alone.

Rather than yield, the archbishop went into exile, until at last the king was obliged to submit to the aging but inflexible prelate.

In the midst of his harassing cares, Saint Anselm found time for writings which have made him celebrated as the father of scholastic theology, while in metaphysics and in science he had few equals.

He is yet more famous for his devotion to our Blessed Mother, whose Feast of the Immaculate Conception he was the first to establish in the West.

He died in 1109.

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)


Saint Agnes of Monte Pulciano


Saint Agnes of Monte Pulciano

Saint Agnes was born in Italy in 1274, a gentle future glory of the Order of Saint Dominic. Her father was an eminent Christian who dwelt in the village of Gracciano Vecchio, near the Lake of Perugia in central Italy.

On the very day of her birth a first miracle announced to those present that this was a predestined child: mysterious burning torches appeared, shining brilliantly near her crib.

Already at the age of four the little girl used to retire in solitude to pray to Jesus, her love.

When she was nine she asked her parents to enter a monastery; they opposed this wish, not certain of the will of God. But after she had prayed fervently that opinions might be changed, she was allowed to join the Sisters of Monte Pulciano who were living under the Rule of Saint Augustine.

They soon venerated her as resembling an angel of paradise.

When she reached the age of fourteen, to test her they assigned to her the prosaic duties of stewardess of her monastery, an office in which she would have to provide for the material needs of the Sisters and keep accounts; they wanted to see whether these occupations would detach her from her spirit of uninterrupted prayer.

They were edified to see her carry out her duties cheerfully, in perfect obedience, without murmuring in any way and without her piety being in any way altered.

Whenever a Sister needed any service, the response of Saint Agnes was always characterized by grace and charity.

Saint Agnes already had the reputation of sanctity; a number of persons had seen her raised in the air nearly two feet above ground.

And when the residents of Procena, a neighboring town, decided to build a monastery for their daughters, they came to ask for her as its first Superior.

She was at that time fifteen years old, and her humility was affrighted by this request.

But she was commanded by the Sovereign Pontiff to accept the office as proposed.

This experience would prepare her for a later important work, that of founding a large monastery in honor of the Mother of God at Monte Pulciano; the Blessed Virgin had already appeared to her and told her that it would be founded on faith in the Most High and undivided Trinity.

As the years passed, it occurred sometimes that where she knelt in prayer, flowers sprang up — violets, lilies and roses.

One year, during the night of the Assumption, the Mother of the Saviour appeared to her again and placed the Infant Jesus in her arms.

Saint Agnes succeeded in founding the foretold monastery, in which she presided over twenty cloistered Dominican Sisters; an Angel had told her to establish it under the Rule of Saint Dominic.

During her last illness, she was sent to bathe in curative waters; during her journey there she brought back to life a child who had drowned.

Her health did not improve, but a spring welled up nearby which cured others and was named the water of Saint Agnes.

Saint Agnes returned to her monastery and prepared for death.

She died at the age of 43 on April 20, 1317.

Miracles occurred at her tomb, as they had during her lifetime, and she was beatified in 1534, canonized in 1726.

Her first biographer was Raymond of Capua, the confessor of Saint Catherine of Siena.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4)