Madonna di Montevergine
MAY
7-8-9
   
The Shrine of Montevergine originated in 1595 with the discovery of a painting with the Virgin and the Baby. The legend hands down an apparition to a young shepherd. The Madonna invites him in going to the parish priest of Palmariggi in order to lead the population on the hill, and this happens. Surprisingly they see a ladder taking into a grotto where, on an altar, there is the image of the Virgin with the Baby. By the offerings of the devotees they build a chapel. In 1707, after the collapse of the chapel, the present church was built. Time weakened the cult for the Virgin. In 1901 Father Vitale Mariano wanted the ancient splendour of the Shrine to be revived. Besides, he launched the idea of erecting a Monument to the Holy Virgin. The Monument, 34 metres high, with a base designed and directed by engineers Dimitri and Di Maglie and executed by Fuso - Stomeo of Martano, ending with a statue by the sculptor Luigi Guacci. Struck by lightning on 7.11.1999, it has been restored by the artist Rocco Zappatore. In 1929-30, the Recto Father Vitale Mariano wanted the building of eight rooms for the reception of pilgrims. On one of them a big bell was placed, every day at the sunset it tolls to remember those dead in war and to plead for peace. On 26.2.1960, the church was closed to the cult with decree of the Prefect of Lecce because of cracks in the vault making it unsafe. Thanks to the offerings of the devotees from 1964 to 1965 the church was restored and inaugurated on May 1st 1965 by Archbishop Gaetano Pollio. Then a bigger reception room, built-in to the Church, was realized thanks to the offerings of the devotees, inaugurated on May 8th 1995 by Archbishop Francesco Cacucci coinciding with the IV centenary of the finding of the image of the Virgin. In 2004, on the most panoramic and fascinating point of the town, the sculptor Rocco Zappatore realized a Via Crucis ending with an impressive statue representing the Redeemer.
   
 



   
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