Italy 1828 - It was St. Francis of Paula who during the fifteenth century founded
a monastery known as Trinita dei Monti. In 1828 the monastery was going to be
abandoned. Pope Leo XII expressed the desire that it should be offered to the
religious of the Sacred Heart. In 1828, Trinita dei Monti was offered to the Religious
of the Sacred Heart. Since then the monastery, which is located in Rome near the
Spanish steps, has become a center for the Religious of the Sacred Heart and all
others visiting the shrine of Mater Admirabilis.
story of the fresco of Mater Admirabilis is in 1844, a young French girl, Pauline
Perdrau who later became a Religious of the Sacred Heart expressed to Reverend
Mother Coriolis, Superior of the house, a desire to paint Our Lady in a niche
located along a corridor that opened on the cloister. The Mother Superior was
hesitant. While she knew the talent of the youthful artist, she also knew her
ignorance of fresco techniques.
Perdrau prayed to Mother Mary for strength, and in spite of resistance from the
Mother Superior, Pauline Perdrau persisted and finally was granted permission.
She gave herself wholeheartedly to the task, spending six or seven hours each
day for months preparing the surface of the wall and finally painting the likeness
When the painting was
completed, the wet paint was thought to be too vivid and was left to dry under
a protective drape. When the curtain was removed some days later, the paint appeared
in the lovely shades that are admired today. Pauline Perdrau thought it to be
On October 20, 1846,
Pope Pius IX visited the Monastery of Trinita dei Monti. While on tour, he asked
what was hidden behind the curtain. Pulling back the curtain to the surprise of
all, there was the most beautiful fresco of Mary, the painting of Pauline Perdrau.
The Pope exclaimed Mater Admirabilis!, thus giving her the title that she bears
to this day.
Word spread quickly
of the beautiful fresco of Mater Admirabilis meaning Mother Most Admirable. Miracles
began to happen in November of that same year. Father Blampain, a missionary of
the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary, was given the power of speech which
he had completely lost. Pilgrims in ever increasing numbers came to kneel
at the feet of the Madonna and to pray for grace. The grace that seems to be a
special gift of Mater Admirabilis is an invitation to interior life.
Pius IX gave permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass before the miraculous
picture. So evolved the Celebration of the Feast of Mater Admirabilis on October
20th. Among the innumerable priests and pilgrims of all nations who have come
to the Shrine of Mater Admirabilis, one remembers especially the Saints who have
prayed there: Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.
image is meant to portray a teenage Mary at the temple of Jerusalem getting ready
for her sublime future mission. Her pureness is represented by the traditional
white lily, her toil by the spindle she is holding whereas the book on her sewing
basket stands for her education, and her thoughtful look and the peaceful landscape
behind her for the leading role of praying in life. The Most Admirable Mother
is the Patroness of everyone in search of a profound spiritual life and a deeper
Mother Most Admirable is the name bestowed upon this portrait of Our Lady by Pope
PiusIX in 1846. Prior to that time it had been known as "The Madonna of the
Lily", the lily symbolizing Our Lady's purity.
More details on
the Church's architecture and a virtual tour through it can be found at their official website.