In 1383, Paolo Serafini painted the fresco of the Madonna dell’Umiltà (Our Lady of Humility) for the chapel of Santa Maria Forisportam (St. Mary Outside the Gate) outside town. A century later, Pistoia erupted in bloody civil strife. On July 17, 1490, a group of people took refuge in the chapel. While the Mass was being celebrated by the priest Tommaso Benannati at the altar of our Lady, in the light of a ray of the sun, they could see oozing from the front of the Virgin’s image a few drops of liquid of vermilion color that descend to the Virgin’s feet, trickling down and tracing wide streaks. Some witnesses rang the bell, while others ran to spread the news. The combat ended, and both sides ran to see the miracle. This perspiration lasted for several weeks and months, and its traces are still visible. The Pistoiese wept for this painful sorrow of the heavenly Mother, caused by their obstinacy in hatred and divisions: they swore peace and forgiveness, and promised to build a Temple to the heavenly Mediatrix. The authenticity of the miracle, after careful examination, was confirmed by the Bishop Niccolò Pandolfini, the Podestà Pietro Vettori, the Capitano del Popolo, the Gonfaloniere and the Priori. The enthusiasm and popular devotion to the Madonna of Humility grew dramatically, so much so that immediately arises the need to provide for an expansion of the small church to contain the crowds of believers who come from everywhere. A magnificent new sanctuary, renamed for the painting, was dedicated at the site on December 31, 1582. The image shows the humble Madonna seated on a cushion on the floor, nursing the child at Her right breast. The Basilica celebrates the feast of the Madonna of Humility on July 17 with solemn mass and vespers.
Official website, www.basilicadellamadonna.it.
(Picture from “Madonna dell’Umiltà – Pistoia – 17 Luglio 1490,” Maria di nazareth, www.mariadinazareth.it)