Various popes have had great devotion to this particular image of our Queen.
Within the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome is a copy of a painting of the Blessed Mother holding the child Jesus in her arms. The child is seen pointing to His mother. The original picture was painted by the renowned Italian artist, Carlo Maratta (1625-1713).
History tells us that Carlo Maratta, who became the court painter for King Louis XIV of France, gave the painting to a young nun by the name of Sister Clara Isabel Fornari. (There are those that say that Sister Clara painted the picture herself, but most accounts reject that idea).
Sister Clara belonged to the Poor Clares of St. Francis and in due time became the zbbess of the convent located in Todi, Italy.
Sister Clara, who embraced a strict life of penance, was blessed with many mystical graces. As time passed, she received the sacred stigmata of Our Lord’s Passion. She had a profound devotion to Our Lady and became deeply attached to the image of Our Lady with the Divine Infant.
The original of the painting remains in the chapel in Todi, Italy; but the copy hanging in St. Mary Major and all other copies offer the same spiritual benefits as the original.
The seminary in Todi 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. The seminarians began calling the painting, “Our Lady of Confidence,” invoking her “Mater mea Fiducia mea!” (My Mother, my Confidence).
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.
During the First World War, the Blessed Virgin watched over the more than 100 seminarians who had turned 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 seminarians developed such a devotion to the painting that they requested it be granted a canonical coronation.
Pope Gregory XVI did grant a canonical coronation to the image on October 14, 1838, at the petition of the seminarians. Also, Pope Pius X was particularly devoted to Mary under this title. In addition, Pope St. John XXIII was a great devotee of Our Lady of Confidence. He visited the holy image frequently. He loved this devotion so much he offered his very first Mass in its presence.
A parchment has the words of the Blessed Mother as written down by Sister Clara:
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 their sins. Moreover, my Divine Lady assured me with the love of a true mother that she would grant a special tenderness and devotion toward everyone who contemplated this picture.
My Mother, My Confidence, please pray for us all.