On June 25, 1697, a Catholic home in the Eternal City celebrated the birth of a daughter! Little did the happy parents know that Divine Providence had destined this little girl to be a noble instrument in His hands to introduce into the Church one of the most beautiful invocations to the Holy Mother of God: “Madonna della Fiducia” — Our Lady of Confidence.
While still a youth, Clare Isabella Forani became a religious and eventually became the venerable abbess of the convent of Poor Clares of Saint Francis in the city of Todi, Italy. She courageously adopted a severe life of penance from the outset and bore unspeakable trials for many years. Her sacrifices purified her soul and prepared her to receive the highest of mystical graces, and her visions and ecstasies were numerous. Such was the intensity of her participation in the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ that she received the Holy Stigmata of His Passion.
Sister Clare also nourished a very special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a devotion represented in sacred pictures which the talented servant of God painted with her own hand.
Many of Sister Clare’s pictures of the Madonna, either copies or originals, circulated widely due especially to her confessors who gave them to friends and acquaintances. The recipients always found succor in their needs.
Until her death in the odor of sanctity in 1744, Sister Clare always kept with her an oval picture portraying the maternal figure of the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus in her arms. Most extraordinary graces are attributed to this picture, which remains in the city of Todi. Especially benefited were the sick who had recourse to the intercession of the Blessed Mother before it.
My Mother, My Confidence
A copy of the picture is venerated today in the Major Seminary next to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. It gave rise to a devotion to Our Lady under the title of Mother of Confidence. This renowned reproduction of Our Lady of Confidence arrived at the capital of Christendom accompanied by a copy of a document written by the Servant of God with a promise to those who venerate the picture. The parchment is conserved today in the archives of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which is examining the case for Venerable Sister Clare Isabella’s beatification.
The seminary has always held the picture in great esteem. The students, having recourse to the miraculous image in their most pressing needs, always had their prayers answered by Our Lady. Noteworthy was the complete protection granted by Our Lady of Confidence to the seminarians against the scourge of Asiatic Cholera that claimed thousands of lives throughout Italy in 1837. When a new outbreak devastated the south of the country thirty years later and reached the City of the Pope, the protective mantle of the Madonna was again felt, granting immunity to the students of the seminary. During the First World War, the Blessed Virgin watched over the more than 100 seminarians who had recourse to her with redoubled confidence. Many seminarians were sent to the war and there are numerous letters written from the battlefield recounting the marvels worked by the Madonna for those who had sought her intercession.
The greatest graces reserved for all those who have this devotion are contained in the promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the venerable Sister Clare Isabella. Below is a translation of this marvelous promise taken from an old parchment containing the consoling words of the Blessed Mother to Sister Clare:
“The divine Lady deigned to reveal to me that every soul that confidently presents herself before this picture will obtain from her Divine Son the general pardon for all her sins. Moreover, my divine Lady assured me with the love of a true mother that she would grant a special tenderness and devotion toward her to everyone who contemplated this picture.”
With the ejaculatory prayer, “My Mother my Confidence,” explains a pamphlet published by the Roman seminary, Mary offers everything but asks for nothing. It is a most ardent and efficacious expression of complete abandonment and confidence in the hands of the Blessed Mother. Just as the Apostle Saint Thomas at the feet of the resurrected Redeemer exclaimed with confidence, “My Lord and my God!” so also should devotees of the Virgin, before this miraculous picture, repeat with heartfelt confidence those sweet words, “Mater mea Fiducia mea!” (My Mother, my Confidence!).