January 20, 2017
Share this page:
Back to top
Image: 

In 1844, a generation after the Society of the Sacred Heart was founded, Pauline Perdrau, a young novice, took it upon herself to produce a fresco of the Virgin Mary on a wall in a recreational area of the convent, Trinità dei Monti in Rome. As a child, Pauline had had a favorite pink dress, so she chose to paint Mary as a young woman in a rose-colored dress rather than a matronly Madonna in blue. The lily at Mary’s side represented her purity; the distaff and spindle, her love of work; a book, her dedication to study. Unfortunately, although Pauline put herself wholeheartedly into her task, her inexperience with the technique of fresco did not produce the beautiful soft painting for which she had hoped. The too vivid colors had to be hidden behind a drape. Pope Pius IX, upon visiting the convent, requested that the curtain be removed. Seeing the fresco of our Lady, its colors inexplicably softened, he exclaimed, “Mater Admirabilis!” (Latin for “Mother Most Admirable”) Miracles soon began with the cure of a missionary priest who had completely lost the power of speech. Permission was given to offer Mass before the miraculous picture and to celebrate the feast of Mater Admirabilis on October 20.
There is a statue and/or picture of Mater in each of our schools today. This special day is marked with liturgical celebrations, alumnae gatherings and pink goûter.