December 22

Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

In 1478, plague struck San Giovanni Valdarno. Monna Tancia, 75, was left to care for a 3-month-old grandson whose parents both died. On December 22, she searched the city for a wet nurse but found no one willing to come to the house. Stopping at a fresco of the Madonna on the old city gate, she begged Our Lady for help. The old nonna went home and was able to nurse the baby for several months. News of the miracle spread quickly and a shrine, now a basilica, grew around the image, sometimes called the Madonna del Latte (Our Lady of Milk), although it depicts the child Jesus admiring a bird, not nursing. It is a typical Tuscan work of the 1300s, artist unknown. The bird appears to be a swallow, symbolic of the Resurrection in that period because of a belief that swallows spent the winter buried in pond mud, like frogs. The Madonna of Graces was crowned on her feast day, September 8, 1704. (Information from www.mariadinazareth.it. Picture from the church's site, www.basilicadellegrazie.it.)   

Also celebrated this date:
bulletConception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos, Russian Orthodox Church (Dec. 9 Julian)
bulletMaria Ausiliatrice, Montreal, Canada. Salesian mission church consecrated in Italian borough of Rivière-des-Prairies, 1984.
bulletAnnai Vailankanni, State Bank Colony, Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, India. Church consecrated, 2002. Feast Sept. 8.
bulletNostra Signora di Pontelungo, Albenga, Savona, Liguria, Italy. Painting crowned, 1722. Festa July 2.
bulletMadonna della Consolazione, Nereto, Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy. Apparition saved town, 1798.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly