Father Abbot sent me to offer Holy Mass this morning in our lovely little chapel of La Madonna di Bon Aiuto (Our Lady of Good Help). There were about fifty faithful present. The chapel was built in 1476 by order of Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484) into the ancient Roman Castrense amphitheatre that forms the wall surrounding the monastery gardens. The chapel enshrines an ancient fresco of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At one time the image was in a kind of wayside shrine with no more than a roof to protect it.
A written account in the archives of our monastery relates that one day when Pope Sixtus IV was taking a walk from Saint John Lateran, he chanced upon a group of monks from Santa Croce and stopped to chat with them. All of a sudden a terrible thunderstorm with flashes of lightning came crashing down upon them. The little group sought refuge beneath the roof constructed over the image of the Madonna. The Pope invoked the bon aiuto (kindly help) and protection of the Mother of God. Following this incident, the Pope gave orders that the