The sixteenth-century Sanctuary of the Our Lady of Carmel, located in Combarbio di Anghiari, was built according to the vision of architect Giovan Battista Camerini from Bibbiena in the place where on 11 July 1536, Our Lady appeared to a shepherdess.
The sacred building was entrusted to the management first of the Observant Franciscans, then of the Carmelites, and finally of the Camaldolese. The Latin cross structure is characterized by considerable dimensions. On the main altar you can admire a beautiful Florentine school table representing the Madonna and the Child with Saint Giovannino, from the 16th century.
On June 14, 1987, Msgr. Giovanni D’Ascenzi, with his own decree, placed under the direct authority of the pro tempore bishop of Arezzo – Cortona – Sansepolcro the sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel, located in the Combarbio of Anghiari, in the parish of Micciano, and until now subject to the pro tempore parish priest of that place.
This official act is a further proof of the importance that this prestigious sanctuary has had and still has in the expression of the Marian devotion of the people of the upper Tiber valley. We present this sanctuary, as the same decree of Msgr. Bishop reports:
“On 11th July 1536 the most holy Virgin appeared to a twelve-year-old shepherdess Marietta Del Mazza in Combarbio, in the municipality of Anghiari. The apparitions were repeated in the following days and the news spread among the populations of the upper Valtiberina, of the Sovara valley and of the surroundings, who gathered more and more, showing fervent devotion to the Mother of God. The historical testimonies report miraculous facts attributed to the intercession of the Virgin.”
The Bishops of Arezzo and Sansepolcro, having learned of the apparitions and manifestations of the people, carefully examined the testimonies collected and recognized the truthfulness of the facts, authorizing the erection of a sanctuary in honor of Mary Most Holy in the place of the apparitions . The sanctuary was built in less than three years because of the great generousity of the people, in particular, those of Anghiari. It was entrusted first to the Franciscan Fathers of Verna (1540) and then in 1548, to the Carmelite Fathers, who remained there until 1782.
The sanctuary took the name of Our Lady of Carmel, and over the centuries it has continued uninterruptedly to recall the devotion of the people of the surrounding area. A fervent testimony of trust and love to Our Lady of Carmel occurred on the evening of 11th July 1986, 450 years anniversary from the date of the first apparition.
At the beginning of the Marian year, announced by John Paul II, having recognized the spread and historical continuity of devotion to the Mother of God who is venerated in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel, located in Combarbio, municipality of Anghiari, Msgr. Giovanni D’Ascenzi, bishop of Arezzo – Cortona – Sansepolcro, decrees that said sanctuary is placed under the authority of the protempore bishop of Arezzo – Cortona – Sansepolcro, entrusting its spiritual care and direction to a bishop’s delegate, assisted by a council of administration.
“May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, accept this decree as an act of ardent love for you of the people of Anghiari, Sansepolcro and the upper Valtiberina and deign to bless the clergy, religious, families, especially youth, whom we entrust with trust to his Motherly Heart. “
The dear brothers of the upper Tiber valley will want to welcome the vows of the bishop, as a wish for growth in faith, with the gaze turned to the exemplary figure of the common Mother.