The first picture of Our Lady of Confidence was painted by the great Italian painter Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) who was knighted by Pope Clement XI in 1704 and was made court painter by Louis XIV the same year.
Maratta gave the picture to a noblewoman, Claire Isabella Fornari (June 25, 1697- December 9, 1744), who was the abbess of the Convent of Poor Claire of St. Francis in the city of Todi. The Abbess – today the Venerable Sister Claire Isabel – embraced a life of severe penance and was favored with many mystical graces. She had a great devotion to sacred images, especially those of Mary. She treasured the picture Maratta gave her and meditated on it during her prayer time. Our Lady promised Sister Claire that she would give special graces to all those who would venerate the image of our Lady of Trust throughout the ages. “My Heavenly Mother assured me,” said the Abbess, “that she would give a special tenderness and devotion toward her to everyone who contemplated this image” (the original and copies).
Sister Claire advised her spiritual director, Father Gazali, to take the picture with him whenever he traveled. Father Gazali always found a great sense of peace and consolation from it. He kept the picture until his death on July 29, 1762. Then his possessions, including the image, were given to the Sisters of the Monastery of St. Francis of Todi where they are today.
In the Major Seminary in Rome, there is an identical picture of our Lady of Confidence. How can this be? Sister Claire had another spiritual advisor, Father Crivelli, who was the spiritual director of the German College in Rome. While visiting Foligno, Father Crivelli became seriously sick, but was suddenly healed as soon as Sister sent him the original painting. He was so moved by this healing that he wanted a copy of the image which he took to Rome and then to the local seminary. From this simple beginning the devotion spread so that by the 1830’s Our Lady of Trust had become the patroness of the Major Seminary in Rome.
Our Lay of Trust protected the seminarians in times of crisis. In fact in 1837, the scourge of Asiatic flu claimed many lives. The seminarians and their families were put under the protection of Mary; not one of them contracted the disease! In thanksgiving, two crowns were fashioned in gold and placed on the images of Mary and the Child Jesus.
During World War I, more than 100 seminarians were forced into the Italian military. The seminarians placed themselves under the special care of Mary of Trust. They all returned home safely. To repay the goodness of their Queen, the seminarians put diadems on the crowns of Mother and Child! In the seminary today the Feast of Our Lady of Trust is celebrated on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday.