Miraculous fresco Mater Admirabilis, Mother Most Admirable



Rome, 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.

The 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.

Pauline 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 of Mary.

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 a miracle.

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.

Pope 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.

The 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 faith.

Mater Admirabilis, 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].