Mother Most Admirable

There are all kinds of folks whom I know visiting Rome right now – this could be the most that I have ever had at one time!

Anyhow, today I took a group of them to see a little-known image in a chapel of a school at the top of the Spanish Steps. The image is called Mater Admirabilis – traditionally in English we say, “Mother Most Admirable” (though the Latin simply means “Admirable Mother”).

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This is a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is in a school that was run by Sacred Heart Sisters. In 1828 one of the novices requested permission to paint this image – using the fresco technique – in one of the school’s corridors; the Mother Superior acceded. But when the sister had finished, Mother was not happy with the outcome: the colors were too bright, too garish. So she covered the image over with a cloth while the paint dried. Some time later, when they removed the cloth, they found the image as it appears today, with a nice balance of color, and quite beautiful.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is portrayed as a young woman, seated in the Temple.

Pope Pius IX visited this corridor some 18 years later, and when he saw the image he exclaimed, “Mater Admirabile!”, being very impressed with it.

Since that time it has become a place of prayer, with many miracles attributed to the Blessed Mother’s intercession.

Here are some ex votos, which, as you will recall, signify answered prayers:

There were several cases like this one, filled with silver hearts.

One of many touching plaques on the walls. This one was left by a woman whose prayer was answered (we know it was a woman because the verb is in the feminine gender), and it says: “In you I hoped, my Lady, Mother Most Admirable, and I was not confounded. The Month of May, in the Year of the Lord 1871.”

There was an elderly woman in the chapel praying when we got there: she had been a student of the school as a girl. In talking with her, we found out that today – October 20th – is the very feast day of this image! It was a happy coincidence.

Here is the view from the front door of the school – you can see the dome of St. Peter’s in the distance. The closer dome is the Church of St. Charles, in which is enshrined the heart of St. Charles Borromeo. Not a bad view.

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Mother Most Admirable, pray for us.

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