In the two previous articles (about the “Consolata Missionaries” and that of our founder “Blessed Joseph Allamano”), I have used the title “Consolata” in many occasions. It is on assumption that our readers are probably already conversant with this title that is so dear to us as Consolata Missionaries. Well, that was just my assumption; because I just came across one of our readers who asked me about the nexsus between the title “Consolata” (and of course Our Lady Consolata) and the two congregations founded by the Blessed Joseph Allamano. This article, therefore, is aimed at giving an informed response to the mentioned concern.
THE ORIGIN OF THE DEVOTION TO OUR LADY CONSOLATA
The devotion to Our Lady Consolata, whose famous Shrine is located in Turin, Italy, goes back to early Christianity. It developed from the veneration of an icon of the Blessed Mother and Child which pious tradition attributes to St. Luke.
According to this tradition, St. Eusebius brought the icon from Egypt to Italy in the fourth century, and sent it to Turin. St. Maximus, Bishop of Turin from 380 to 420, placed the icon in a small Marian Shrine in the northwest corner of the city.
The devotion to Our Lady Consolata fostered by St. Maximus continued to spread until the Iconoclasts tried to destroy the crucifixes, images, and relics of the saints. The Consolata icon, however, was not destroyed, but remained hidden in a crypt of St. Andrew’s Chapel, in Turin, till the beginning of the eleventh century.
In 1014, Arduino, Marquis of Ivrea, who was then seriously ill, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady appeared to him requesting that he built a chapel under the title of Our Lady Consolata in the Church of St. Andrew. She promised his health would be restored. The Marquis was in fact miraculously cured. Deeply touched by the favors of the Blessed Virgin, Arduino earnestly undertook the construction of the chapel. During the works of excavation, the icon of the Consolata was recovered in the midst of great joy and awe. It was then enshrined above the altar of the new chapel, and the shrine soon became for the people, a “Place of Grace.”
During the course of the following century, the continuous civil warfare almost completely destroyed the city of Turin, and the chapel which the Marquis had built for the Consolata icon lay long-forgotten in ruins.
In 1104, John Ravais, a blind man from Briancon, France, in a dream had a vision: buried under the ruins of an old church, he saw a painting of Our Lady. It was revealed to him that the site was in Turin, Italy, and that through him Our Blessed Lady would again be honored in that place. She also promised him that his sight would be restored.
He journeyed to Turin as the vision directed. The excavation works began at the site: upon the blind man’s urgings the crowds brought picks and shovels and uncovered first the remains of an old chapel and then the undamaged painting of Our Lady, the Consolata icon! It was June 20, 1104.
This was the beginning of the revival of the devotion of Our Lady Consolata in Turin. Since then the city of Turin had many blessing from Our Lady Consolata. The plague of the middle ages did not touch Turing, the city was saved from the ravages of French and Spanish troops in 1706; it was not affected by the Cholera epidemics of 1835 and by the great explosion of 1852. Even the two world wars were relatively kind to the city.
Deeply moved by the miracle which had occurred, the citizens of Turin rebuilt the little chapel into a large Shrine where they have continued, through the centuries, to venerate Our Lady Consolata.
Devotion to the Consolata was given addedimpetus when Pope Leo XIII, consenting to many requests, established a proper Mass and Office of the Consolata, to be celebrated in the Diocese of Turin each year on June 20.
B. J. ALLAMANO, OUR LADY CONSOLATA AND THE TWO CONSOLATA CONGREGATIONS
By 1880, the Consolata Shrine in Turin had almost become a shanty when Fr. Joseph Allamano the founder of the two Consolata Missionary Congregations (of Priests and Brothers, and that of the Sisters) renovated it during the time he was in-charge of the Shrine as the Rector. Through his untiring spirit to make the place a real center of worship and devotion to Our Lady Consolata, the Shrine became and has remained so until today, an unbeatable fount of many graces for all those who visit it and pray through Our Lady Consolata.
During his stay in the Shrine as the Rector (1880 – 1926 at the time of his death), the Blessed Joseph Allamano developed a very strong devotion to Our Lady Consolata. He became so fond of her, a condition that led him to dig deep into the spirituality of Our Lady under the title Consolata.
Credible sources, which even the B. J. Allamano referred to, record that the ancient icon of Our Lady Consolata (found in the Consolata Shrine in Turin), probably has its origins from an old devotion to Our Lady at the People’s church in Rome. Here the Mother of Christ was venerated with special reference to the natural motherly characteristic of compassion / consolation.
In catholic spirituality, the mother of Jesus has often been associated with compassion, tenderness and consolation. In the apparitions of La Salette in 1846, Mary is presented as a mother in tears who needs the consolation of humanity; the humanity consoles her by working in the Kingdom of her son. The Consolata is primarily the “Consoled”.
Mary is also the one who gives true comfort to mankind, in the person of Jesus the Messiah and Savior of the world. She is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the mother of all comfort.
Joseph Allamano, having understood clearly the depth of Mary’s consoling aspect to the world, especially for those in serious need, made her his real mother and wanted all his missionaries to be so: “Consolatini”. For Allamano, with this deep Marian spirituality under the title “Consolata”, got the inspiration to found the two Congregations. For that reason, for Allamano, the real foundress of the two Congregations is Our Lady Consolata. She is therefore at the very center of the spirituality of the two Congregations, giving reason for the naming of the said congregations with the title “Consolata”. All Consolata Missionaries must therefore evangelize the world like Mary; meaning, with a consoling touch.
OUR LADY CONSOLATA, PRAY FOR US!!!!!!!!