You may have noticed that the image at Our Lady’s shrine has been updated. This more vibrant picture is the very same Our Lady and the Child Jesus that has always been at that shrine. The original has suffered somewhat from fading in recent years.
It is a Madonna and Child that was painted on a pillar of the original St Peter’s Basilica building sometime in the 15th century by an anonymous artist. It was placed in the Gregorian Chapel of the ‘new’ current Basilica in 1578. At that time it was known as the Madonna della Colonna, the Madonna of the Column, and drew much devotion from the people. Pope St Paul VI gave it the title Mater Ecclesiae – Mother of the Church in the 1960’s. Pope St John Paul II had a mosaic based on it placed on the side of the Papal apartments in the 1980’s that can be seen in St Peter’s Square. In 2012 and 2013, this revered image underwent a major restoration, much like that done on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and much of its original beauty and colour have been recovered. One of its most striking features is that in it both Our Lady and the Christ child are smiling. May our welcome of Mary our Mother and of her Son, Christ the Lord, bring joy to our hearts and homes.