A Look at History Through Ex-Voto
It all started way back on August 15th 1450, when the parish priest of Rasiglia, a certain Don Bartolomeo, sought audience with the bishop of Foligno to ask permission to build a church to the Virgin, with the right to officiate.
The sanctuary was in fact built a kilometre from Rasiglia, 648 meters above sea level, on the gravelly ground surrounding the Fosso Terminara, just on the boundary between the dioceses of Foligno and Spoleto. The place to build the sanctuary was allegedly decided when a statue of the Virgin and Child was found under the Terminara Bridge. The church was probably named Santa Maria delle Grazie on account of the extraordinary events that took place during that plague-ridden period of history.
The Traveller's Window
A small window is situated in the facade of the sanctuary, near the main entrance. This was placed here specially so that travellers passing by the church could look at the Madonna and pray even if the church itself was closed. The interior of the church is square in shape, with a single nave and today only one altar. The wall behind the altar is covered with ex-voto. From here a flight of steps leads down to the crypt, where there is an ancient statue of the Virgin adoring the Child, an object of cult until the 1700s until it was substituted with the one that is currently in the church
The walls of the church are covered with fine votive frescoes. The oldest dates back to 1454 and depicts the Madonna with her cloak spread over her faithful to protect them from the plague.
There is also a fine fresco depicting the Angel of Peace protecting two warriors, who are embracing. This has been attributed to Bartolomeo di Tommaso. As well as being valuable objects in themselves, the countless ex-voto have an added value in that they each tell a story. If read chronologically, these ex-voto can act as a document of the many events that took place in this area, throughout history, such as thanks for the end of the plague, or thanks on behalf of a small village for being spared a drought.
A hermitage stands next to the church. Next to the hermitage stands the pilgrim's house, built in 1975. After centuries of exclusively male hermits, the hermitage is now occupied by sister Pippi Clara, who has been here since 1974.
Celebrations at the Sanctuary:
Pentecost Monday, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, in memory of the grace asked by the village of Scopoli to rid it of cholera in 1855. June 18th in memory of the village of Casenove, that asked for the safety of 22 of its men taken by the Germans as a retaliatory act. The last Sunday in June, for a grace asked by the village of Volperino in 1865 to put an end to a long period of drought.
Those wishing to stay nearby can book at the
Albergo Ristorante Sette Monti di Bastioli Nazzareno & C. s.a.s.
Via Nazionale 29 Scopoli, Foligno PG
Tel. (+39) 0742.632.110 – (+39) 0742.632.673
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