On Anscombe and Good Counsel

Our Lady of Good Counsel is a fine title of Mary, one which dates back indirectly to the 5th century, when Pope Sixtus III provided material and spiritual aid to a church dedicated to Our Lady in the Italian town of Genazzano, whose citizens had contributed significantly to the recently-finished magnificent basilica Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome.

So far, so good, for a millennium or so.  But it seems that by the year 1467, the local church had fallen into disrepair. A widow tried to raise funds for renovation, but to no avail, when, on the feast of Saint Mark, exquisite music was heard, a cloud descended on the dilapidated building, and when it disappeared, there was a paper-thin, and it turns out miraculous, fresco of the Virgin and the Christ child, which was christened ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’, becoming a famous place of pilgrimage and intercession, with Popes and saints making their way to the site over the centuries.

Pope Leo XIII added ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ to her official Litany, and now churches and schools throughout the world are dedicated to this very a propos title of the Mother of God, whose primary vocation now is to guide her spiritual children to heaven.  And who does not turn to their mother for good advice?

While we’re on the topic of counsel, read over, even in sections if time is of the essence, Carl Sundell’s insightful description of the thought of Dr. Elizabeth Anscombe (+2001) one of the foremost philosophers of the twentieth century (Roger Scruton described her as the ‘last great philosopher writing in English’, but take those end-of-an-age encomia with some grain of salt), who also raised seven children, was a devoted wife to fellow philosopher Peter Geach, an insightful apologist for Humanae Vitae, and a pro-life activist. She also objected to the bombing of Hiroshima (as do I, most vehemently), and to President Truman’s (who approved the act) honorary doctorate from Oxford.

We could do with a few more academics such as she, who offer wisdom and counsel from their immersion in truth.

Requiescat in pace.