November 14

Madonna delle Grazie, Montevago, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Around 1760, a painting of the Madonna and Child turned up in an open field near Montevago in western Sicily. A crowd gathered and placed the stone icon in an oxcart. But the oxen walked a short distance and then stopped. Nothing could make them move, so the people took this as a sign to build the Madonna a shrine on the spot. Don Benedetto Catalano of Montevago, who was a physician as well as a theologian and priest, consecrated the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Graces around 1777. The holy image on the main altar, retouched by Fra Pasquale Sarullo in the 1800s, was canonically crowned November 14, 1935. In a side chapel the Madonna of Graces was also represented by a statue.

All this, and the entire town of Montevago with its main church, was destroyed in the earthquake of January 15, 1968. Over 100 people died. Of the majority who escaped, some moved away, but others remained to rebuild Montevago in a new location. A new Mother Church was dedicated to the Madonna of Graces in 1986, with a replica of the painting. Pope John Paul II crowned this new image on May 9, 1993. As before, there is also a statue.

After a fortnight of solemn preparation, Montevago celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Graces every July 2. Accompanied by music, the sacred icon processes through the streets. Fireworks herald its return to the church. (Information from the town's site, www.comune.montevago.ag.it.)

Photo taken at Giovaninfesta (Youth Day), May 1, 2008, during a procession to the ruins of the old town, by "Geowind," www.flickr.com/photos/giowind/2457217171/.

Also commemorated this date:

bulletNuestra Seņora de la Candelaria, Fuente del Maestre, Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain. Church consecrated, 1987.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly