Saturday before the Third Sunday in May

Santa Maria della Salute, Valentano, Viterbo, Latium, Italy

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Salute was founded around 1470 by a reformed bandit, Francesco "Ceccino" Portici, who had turned himself in to the Bishop of Castro during a 24-hour amnesty. After a period of penance in the Cathedral of Castro -- then the main city of this region between Siena and Rome -- the gang leader retired to the woods near Valentano, where he built a stone chapel. In it he put a painting of the Virgin and Child, known as the Madonna del Cecchino to the increasing numbers of pilgrims who sought out the rustic shrine. In 1506, some years after his death, some Augustinian monks moved there and built a bigger church, dedicated on September 13, 1512 to Santa Mariae Salutis. In 1523, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese sent the Servants of Mary to occupy the sanctuary, where they installed a new statue of the Virgin, the Madonna of the Rose, holding the Christ Child with her left hand and a flower with her right. Portici's painting may have been replaced during the 1600s by a work in the style of Guido Reni (Bologna, 1575-1642), right. After the Wars of Castro in 1649, when papal troops destroyed the cathedral city, the shrine of Our Lady of Health was unoccupied except by an occasional hermit. But local devotion remained strong, and the people of Valentano credited their Madonna with saving them from plague epidemics in 1657 and 1831. 
On August 20, 1899, the statue of Our Lady of Health (left) received the honor of canonical crowning by Vatican authority. On the Saturday before the third Sunday in May, a big procession is held to fulfill the town's vow of 1657. Richly robed, the Madonna of the Rose rides in a processional car donated by grateful survivors of 1831. The festa of the Madonna della Salute precedes the more famous Fiera del Cedro, a two-day fair dating back to 1461, which takes place on the third Sunday in May and the day after. Valentano celebrates its patronal feast in honor of St. Justin Martyr on the Sunday after August 15.   


bullet"Madonna della Salute - Valentano," Centro di Catalogazione dei Beni Culturali, (picture left)
bullet"The Churches - The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Salute," Valentano, (picture above)

 Also commemorated this date:

bulletNuestra Señora de la Misericordia, Mérida, Extremadura, Spain (Our Lady of Mercy). Candlelight procession.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly