It is said that St. Augustine’s mother, St. Monica, recently widowed and concerned for her wayward son, begged the Blessed Virgin for help. Mary appeared and, taking off her black belt, gave it to Monica with the promise of consolation and protection to anyone who wore it. The Augustinian Order adopted such a belt as part of its habit.
In 1436, in Bologna, a lay Confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation was started, whose members also wear the black belt. This devotion is now headquartered at the Church of St. Augustine in Rome. In its Chapel of St. Monica hangs Giovanni Gottardi’s 1765 painting of the Madonna della Cintura (Our Lady of the Belt), shown giving the cord to both Augustine and Monica. At first, the Augustinian Order celebrated the feast of the Madonna of Consolation on the Sunday after the feast of St. Augustine (August 28). In 1914, the Holy See moved it to the Saturday after the feast of St. Augustine. Now Augustinians around the world honor the Mother of Consolation on September 4.
“Answers to Recent Questions,” The Mary Page, campus.udayton.edu/mary
Agostino Trapé, O.S.A., “MADONNA DELLA CONSOLAZIONE detta anche DELLA CINTURA,” Associazione Storico-Culturale Sant’Agostino, www.cassiciaco.it/navigazione/monachesimo/devozioni/mariana/trape/cintura.html
“Chiesa S. Agostino verso il Giubileo,” Augustinians – Order of St. Augustine, www.aug.org (picture)