Sanctuary of the Madonna della Corona
The name is attributed to the „crown” of rocky walls that surround the inaccessible terrace overlooking the abyss, 775 meters above the Val d’Adige. The environment is extremely fascinating and the structure is certainly one of the most daring religious works.
Here the Madonna dell’Addolorata is venerated, represented by a stone statue fortunately found on the edge of the precipice in 1522. The legend of the discovery is grafted on the tragic events that took place on the island of Rhodes during the centuries-old disputes between the Venetians and the Turks and the luminous apparition of the Madonna in this extremely difficult place to access.
More likely, the statue was carved in 1432 at the expense of Mr. Ludovico Castelbarco, a local feudal lord.
A first church, very modest, was inaugurated in 1530 with the famous and dangerous visit of the bishop of Verona. Already immediately numerous pilgrims came to honor the Madonna and beg for graces and miracles which, judging by the imposing amount of ex-voto, must be numerous.
The inaccessible slope, however, has been frequented since much more remote times. Certain news refer to the hermits as early as the 11th century. A later hermitage dedicated to the Mother of God, of which we have news in 1139 and 1437, was held by religious connected with the Monastery of San Zeno in Verona and therefore with the Commenda dei Cavalieri Gerosolimitani, called di Rodi (hence perhaps the legend of Rodos) and then the Knights of the Order of Malta.
To cope with the ever-increasing influx of pilgrims in the first half of the 1600s a real sanctuary was built, completed in 1680 thanks to the support of the Knights of Malta.
There was the problem of access, which until then had been more than adventurous and extremely dangerous, access which was by descending from above with a rudimentary winch or by descending to the bottom of the ravine by attacking the rocky wall astride a linden, miraculously bent by a big boulder The stone bridge, called „Ponte del Tiglio”, was built, and the rock-carved staircase with the characteristic seven capitals reminiscent of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
There are numerous later extensions. The main ones after the Napoleonic wars and in 1899, when the facade of the Basilica was rebuilt on the current Neo-Gothic forms and the current bell tower was erected.
There were tragic accidents, such as a large rock falling on the brothers’ house, which caused some deaths.
In 1922, the tunnel was dug that allows easy access from the square which is reached by the small road served by the shuttle bus.
Between 1975 and 1978 the entire complex was radically restored and functional extensions were added to accommodate pilgrims. The sanctuary was consecrated again on June 4, 1978 and blessed by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic visit on April 17, 1988.
The text represents the point of view of the author.
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