Also known as Madonna della Ginestra. Here Mary, Most Holy had her apparition preceded by that of a luminous-looking man. The Mother of God asked “… penance, confession and communion, forgiveness of offenses …” and adding three days of public procession to appease the wrath of God.
We are located about 40 km north-east of Rome, in the area called Sabina. The Sampolese territory was the scene between 9 and 10 June 1515 of miraculous apparitions witnessed by a peasant girl named Giovanna, daughter of Lodovico di Michele di San Polo, a family of poor farmers.
In the abbey of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Monte Dominici the main altar is dedicated to the Our Lady of Grace (Madonna delle Grazie), with a Byzantine-style table venerated by the whole population.
The table is framed in a gilded frame and is from the XII century. In an urn under the altar there is an old worm-eaten trunk, which according to legend, on 10 June 1515 Our Lady appeared to a faithful named Giovanna to invite the inhabitants of Marcellina to make penance. Later, according to legend, the trunk flourished with gorse.
In the year 1515, one day in June, a certain Ludovico Michele di Santo Paolo, (today with a diminutive name, called Santo Polo, land of the Bishopric of Tivoli, near Rome), was working in his farm and while his daughter Giovanna, was hoeing near a hedge, which was close to the road, heard herself being called and greeted with those holy words: “Ave Maria”.
She raised her head to observe who it was and, seen off the main road, a middle-aged man, sober in his expression and with a crown (a Rosary) in his hand. He was dressed as that of the Servites, and was radiating light from his whole body. Giovanna stood astounded, was greeted “Good day!,” he said, of which she responded “Welcome.” He blessed her with a sign of the cross made by his hand, then: “Well Giovanna” added, “How do you think is going to be the harvest this year?” “Ah Lord, it is not so good, if these times do not cease, scarse will be the harvest” and the character made himself into a severe semblant: “Well you deserve!” he replied,
“The sins of this land deserve worse. Who is fasting on Lent? Did everybody celebrate Easter? There have been enmities; Has anyone made peace? See that river that flooded half the hut? If Our Lady who was moved with pity did not kneel at the foot of Christ, everything would have overturned the fields and all took away all the seeds. God is infuriated, but let everybody know, that on Friday all the people should fast on bread and water in memory of the Passion of Christ”
To him the lady, replied: “Father, if I say these words to the people, they will not believe it; it is better that you come and advise them yourself and not commit me, a lowly being”.
“No,” said the personage, “they do not bother any sermons. Take heed to this!”; made sign of the Cross again and left.
Giovanna remained so perplexed without saying anything to anyone or to her father. She kept the vision hidden. The following morning, which was Tuesday of the week and tenth of the month of June, leaving the house to go to the washhouse with other women to soak a piece of new cloth, halfway she felt herself inspired in the heart that it is better to soak it and make it white in a moat, near her farm; leaving all the others and by soaking it by herself and spreading it over the grass in the sun, she began to hoe a little field of her possession near a walnut tree; and here again she felt herself called in thin air by name, and looking up at that tree, in which you saw Mary Most Holy seated dressed in a black mantle, and all glittering with rays, frightened, Our Lady encourage her not to fear, and questioned her, because she hadn’t done what the personage had told her.
Not knowing what to say, she fell silent, and the Madonna:
“Immediately”, she said to Giovanna, “go to the curate of Santo Paolo, tell him on my behalf, as Mary, Mother of Christ, that with the sound of the Church bell and another small one on the ground, to gather all the people, and exhort them to do penance, confess their sins and receive communion, forgive the offenses and for three consecutive days do a public procession to appease the wrath of God. All these should result to a change of life; to fast on Lent. On another occasion leaving by chance the observance of Easter, they will have to deal it with the Son of God. And if I am interposing now to forgive them, if they will not amend, I will let the punishment run free”.
“I will go”, responded Giovanna, “once I take the canvas, so that it will not be stolen and I will leave immediately”. “The canvas” replied the Lady, “I will watch over it; go”.
Giovanna threw the hoe, made reverence to the Queen of Heaven, and ran directly towards the town. Everybody who met her were stupefied, asked her what had happened, and she did not answer anyone. Arriving in Santo Paolo, she encountered the curate, explained everything what she happened, and proved her visions with tears streaming down her cheeks.
The bell was rung, the bell was sent and proclaimed to the people the threat of Divine indignation, the intercession of Our Lady, so great repentance awoke in the hearts of all, embracing each other, the offenders, and those who were offended, each one shouted: “Mercy!”, they strode to see Mary on that walnut tree where appeared, but as she was already gone, they only found the new canvas well folded. They for processions, fasted, changed life for the better and, in that place was built a convent and was given to the Servite Fathers, with title
“SANTA MARIA DELLA NOCE” (OUR LADY OF THE WALNUT)
This is how it was narrated by the chronicle of that time. Our tradition says that when our ancestors “… went to stride to see Mary, they found, on the walnut branch where she had settled, a beautiful head of flowering broom. A piece of that branch is still kept in the glass case of the “S. Maria in Monte Dominici” under the altar of the Crucifixion.
The Lady was dressed like the nuns of the Third Order of the Servants of Mary and wore a black robe, girded at the waist, a black and wide cloak covered her head, showing just two long golden hair that descended on the shoulder and on the chest. The Lady’s face was of particular beauty, though streaked with tears.
Giovanna immediately perceived that she was facing the Virgin Mary. Here are the invitations of the Virgin:
1 – repentance
2 – confession one’s sins;
3 – forgiveness the offenses received;
4 – do three days of devout processions;
5 – observe holidays, respecting the obligation to participate in the Holy Mass;
6 – scrupulously respect all the other precepts of the Church;
7 – not to neglect in particular the feasts dedicated to the Mary.
If the Sanpolesi had carried out the orders received they would have been happy, otherwise they would be in trouble.
While Our Lady was saying these words, she disclosed her chest torn by scourges and showed her bleeding knees imploring the young woman to report the sufferings she endured to appease the wrath of God, indignant against the locals, and to tell what she had seen and heard from that walnut tree.
Every 2nd February the people of San Polo dei Cavalieri goes to this church of Marcellina to venerate the Madonna della Noce or Ginestra (Our Lady of the Walnut or Ginestra).
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