March 19

Madonna delle Grazie, Allumiere, Roma, Latium, Italy

Allumiere, 35 miles northwest of Rome, is named for the alum mines the Papacy opened there in the 1460s. For some 200 years the Papal States were Europe's main source of this mineral, essential in fabric dying. Near one of the oldest of its mines, Cibona, at the foot of Monte Urbano south of the present town, the priestly proprietors turned a wayside shrine into a miners' chapel, covering its painting of the Virgin between Sts. James and John with a new fresco of the same subject in the Sienese manner. Abandoned when the excavations moved, the shrine was rediscovered after 1520, when word got out that the Virgin's left eyebrow bled on being struck by a blasphemer who'd been playing cards on the altar. Waning devotion was rekindled when on June 10, 1633, the day after Pentecost, a woman was freed from a demon and the Virgin appeared in the chapel, starting an avalanche of miracles. In 1637, the reformed Servants of Mary of Monte Senario were brought in to care for the image and supervise work on a church that might be big enough for the crowds. The new sanctuary at Cibona was consecrated May 23, 1683, and the holy fresco solemnly crowned in 1704. Meanwhile, the Servites fanned out through the area. On the site of another wayside shrine near the mines of Monte Roncone, they built another church, dedicated to the Madonna of Graces on September 6, 1689. In 1710, they moved a statue of the Virgin there from Cibona. In 1799, French revolutionaries took over the Papal States and closed the monasteries. With the departure of the Servites, the church at Cibona fell to ruin. In 1937, its holy fresco was moved to the Church of San Francesco in nearby Tolfa. Acquired by the city in the mid-1800s, the Chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie has been rebuilt and enlarged several times since 1954 to serve as a diocesan sanctuary. The Madonna of Graces is patron of Allumiere, with annual celebrations on August 15 and the week of September 8. Pope John Paul II crowned her statue on March 19, 1987. (Information from the city's website and other sources. Image from Giulio Saladini, "santuario della madonna delle grazie," www.angelfire.com/ma/Madonnadellegrazie.)   

Also commemorated this date:

bulletFeast of St. Joseph, Mary's husband, Roman Catholic Church
bulletNotre-Dame du Saint-Sang, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (Our Lady of the Holy Blood). First stone of new chapel placed, 1859.
bulletNotre-Dame de Treize-Pierres, Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrénées, France (Our Lady of Thirteen Stones). Apparition, 1509.
bulletMadonna della Celletta, Argenta, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Annual pilgrimage March 19 renews vow made during earthquake of 1624. Feast day October 7.
bulletSanta Maria della Cattolica, Mileto, Vibo Valentia, Calabria, Italy. Dedication anniversary March 19. Main festa Sunday after Easter.
bulletOur Lady of Sorrows, George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Church opened, 1888.
bulletMother of God of the Blessed Heaven, Moscow, Russia. March 6 in the old calendar.
bulletOur Lady of Częstochowa, Moscow, Russia (March 6 Julian). Icon appeared, 1770.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly