Our Lady of Confidence
Todi, Umbria, Italy, Seventeenth Century
The above image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, painted by Carlo Maratta
[1625-1713], is widely known for its spiritual efficacy. In an
apparition to a nun in the late 1600's, Our Lady promised a particular
tenderness toward herself to all who venerate her image, known as Our
Lady of Confidence.
When Carlo Maratta was 25 years old, his work was so well
received that he was brought to Rome by Cardinal Albrizio and the
governor of his home district of Ancona. After his introduction to Pope
Alexander VII he received many commissions, which brought him renown
throughout Europe. He was eventually knighted by Pope Clement XI in the
year 1704 and was made court painter by Louis XIV during the same year.
Known for his portraits, especially those of the popes and portraits of
the Madonna and Child, his religious works are said to be "marked by a
certain strength and nobility, coupled with a gracious harmony."
Never was this more true and in a special manner than this picture of
Our Lady of Confidence, which came into the possession of Sister Chiara
Isabella Fornari [1697-1744], a young nun of the Poor Clare Convent at
Todi, Italy. It is believed that the artist gave the image to the young
nun. Because of this special image, Sister Chiara Isabella and the
sisters were drawn to a deep and intimate relationship with Our Lady,
who showed her approval through unusual cures and conversions.
Our Lady once indicated her liking for the portrait by appearing to
Sister Chiara Isabella, when the Blessed Virgin promised the nun that
she would grant a particular tenderness and devotion toward herself to
everyone who venerates her image in the picture of Our Lady of
Confidence. Combined with the aspiration, "My Mother, my confidence,"
this devotion has proven especially efficacious.
Because of the number of requests, copies of the portrait were made.
One was placed in the small students' chapel of St. Mary's Seminary at
the Lateran Basilica in Rome. During World War I, over 100 seminarians
who were forced into the armed services of Italy returned home safely,
the special grace, attributed to Our Lady of Confidence, and it was
this favor which prompted the seminarians to crown both Mother and
Child with diadems of gold and jewels.
While a student at the seminary, Pope John XXIII became a devotee of
Our Lady of Confidence. He frequently visited the holy image and
honored it still more by offering his first Mass in its presence.
Afterward, he continued his visits to Our Lady of Confidence and
offered Mass there, especially on the second Sunday in Lent, the Feast
of Our Lady of Confidence.
In the image, notice that the Christ Child points towards His Mother,
the source of graces and confidence.
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