«On April 22, 1557, it pleased the Lord to give a sign of his divine goodness by making the Virgin of Splendor known to the people of Giulianova».
Thus we read in the first chronicle that the prior father of the Celestine Monks, Don Pietro Capullo, who wrote in the years 1657-1674 and who served as a source to Don Niccola Palma for his Ecclesiastical and Civil History of the city of Teramo and Diocese Aprutina (Teramo) , written in the years 1832-1836.
“On a little hill, outside the walls of Giulianova, a pious peasant, tired after having collected firewood to take to his house in Cotogna, went to rest in the shade of a leafy olive tree around noon. Bertolino – that was the farmer’s name – refreshed by the pleasant sea breeze that came up there, he was about to doze when he saw in the branches of the tree a dazzling light and, in the center, the Virgin Mary who said: “Come Bertolino, rise up and go quickly to Giulianova and spread throughout the land the happy news that the Great Mother of God has chosen this place here for her residence. Tell the clergy to come without delay with a solemn procession to honor me and that here, where you now see me, ask them to build for me a sanctuary “.
Still stunned by the great emotion, but proud for the task received, Bertolino ran to the governor (the feudal administrator appointed by the duke) to report the extraordinary message of our Lady.
Predictably, both the governor and some of the notables present had a lot of fun listening to the strange story of the peasant, but when he began to insist that they follow him to the place of the apparition, they lost their patience and chased him out harshly, labelling him a demented visionary. While believing his good faith, they saw the only plausible explanation that Bertolino has gotten too much sun or had an extra too much wine in his head.
Feeling down by the bad reception received, the poor farmer returned home, but the next day, early in the morning, pushed by an inner strength, he went back to the olive tree with the hope of seeing again the radiant image of our Lady in order to confide the bitterness of his heart.
Bertolino walked the last part of the climb in an agitated state of mind; he felt humiliated and offended not so much for the injuries, but more so for the failure of this important mission. And felt as a consequence, that once he arrives at the top of the hill, maybe the Virgin Mary will no longer appear to him. But when he came near the tree, all his fears vanished because our Lady was there waiting for him, to cheer him up and urge him to return to the governor.
The second mission unfortunately did not have the best success of the first. On the third day, Bertolino returned to that place already dear to him. He knelt down and waited for the comforting appearance of our Lady. The Virgin returned and gently and firmly urged him to insist on the governor that what he claimed was true.
Without hesitating, Bertolino returned to the city. Full of renewed fervor, for the third time, the pious peasant told how much the Great Mother of Jesus had just commanded him, insisting that everyone would go up with him to the top of the hill to verify the veracity of his story. This time beatings were added to the insults. One of them, to better convince him stop being silly, began to beat him violently, amid the amusement of those present. Being of meek temperament, Bertolino would have been overwhelmed by the aggressor, if the Madonna had not intervened, freeing him from the hands of the inconsiderate, who was suddenly paralyzed and left not able to speak.
After there was an absolute silence in the room: they all understood that they had witnessed a supernatural event and each one, in his own heart, begs forgiveness for the offenses caused to the innocent peasant. Dismayed and lost, the governor hastened to convoke the clergy (archpriest, the four canons, the provost or the one in charge of the Annunciation church) and all the people to go on a solemn procession on the place indicated by Bertolino.
The woodcutter, confident in the promises of Our Lady and with a heart full of joy, led the procession from the duke’s palace up to the miraculous place where everyone could assist to the fantastic, clear and distinct vision of the Virgin Mary, shining with splendor of dazzling light.
But our Lady had given them another great gift as tangible and perennial proof of this extraordinary event: at the base of the olive tree, our Lady made a spring gush forth pure and fresh water in a continuous jet, and which still exists today!
The news of the apparition, which marked the end of the pestilence that had struck the entire region, but which had left the neighborhood of Giulianova unharmed, spread in a flash. Such an extraordinary event attracted on the spot a multitude of people who came from everywhere to see the miraculous olive tree, to bless themselves with the water of the spring and many prostrated themselves in adoration invoking mercy, protection and comfort.
The also brought there the aggressor of Bertolino, who has sincerely regretted the senseless gesture done and to the aggressor, Our Lady of Splendor wanted to make the first miraculous grace by giving him, among the hosannas of those present, the normal use of his speech and limbs » .
Source: the official website of the sanctuary: