CONTACT: Gallivaggio, 8 23020 San Giacomo Filippo Tel. 034332193
DIRECTIONS: the church can easily be reached from Chiavenna, taking state road No. 36 (SS36) to Madesimo. It is located on the right-hand side of one of the final switchbacks before reaching Campodolcino (altitude 789 m).
The sanctuary was built in a chestnut grove where the Virgin Mary appeared to two girls, who were up early collecting chestnuts in the woods, on 10 October 1492. A chapel was built on the spot where this extraordinary event occurred. It was soon replaced by a church, which was later demolished to build the current sanctuary, which was consecrated in 1615. In the niche above the main altar there is a group of wooden sculptures depicting the scene of the apparition. The three chapels were frescoed by Domenico Caresana from Cureglia (Canton of Ticino) in 1605-06. The church contains two exceptional paintings. The first, by Cesare Ligari from Sondrio, depicts the Crucifix between Franciscan friars (1739). The second is a Coronation of the Virgin painted in 1606 by Paolo Camillo Landriani, known as “il Duchino”, which was once the altarpiece of the ancient altar. The organ balcony and wind-chest are also remarkable. They were built in 1673, with contributions from emigrants in Palermo.
Due to the sanctuary’s superb position, cradled in a wildly beautiful natural alpine amphitheatre crowned with gigantic rocks, it still draws many devout pilgrims who can easily reach it by any means of transportation. It is touching to read the “testimonies” of faith, the prayers, thanks and petitions to the Mother of Mercy, handwritten notes in the register that is kept next to the “holy rock” on which Mary appeared and that still has an impact 520 years later.