Our Lady of the Day (22 July 1494) – OUR LADY OF THE STARS (SANTA MARIA DELLE STELLE), Monte Martello, Cagli, Puglia, Italy
The Sanctuary, located in Monte Martello, was built in 1495, following the apparition of Our Lady on 22 July 1494, by the Municipality of Cagli who also provided the Sanctuary with the necessary annuities for its maintenance. In 1854 the Municipality ceded it to the Diocesan Seminary.
The Sanctuary presents itself to the visitor in its grandeur and majesty, in white stone ashlars mixed with pink stone. The main front of the church is an example of Renaissance architecture. The bell tower has undergone considerable alterations, so much so that the lead-paved dome was unfortunately demolished in 1712.
Inside the sanctuary, with a cross plan with a dome of which only the drum remains, we find the high barrel vaults, and the ancient Celletta or Maestadella which following the miracle of 1494 was incorporated into the Sanctuary. The fully frescoed chapel depicts the Virgin on the throne with the Infant Jesus, known as the “Our Lady of the Stars”, and the heraldic emblem of the Montefeltro towering above the architrave. The church shows traces of further frescoes, mostly from the sixteenth century, recently brought to light in their entirety and therefore largely unpublished.
In the square next to the church there is, in addition to a house, a partially buffered portico that was once used to house merchants and pilgrims, with an attached furnace, a hut divided into small rooms and a barn.
On the top of the mountain overlooking the Sanctuary there are the ruins of the medieval Castle of Monte Martello, so called because it belongs to the Martelli family. In the southernmost area, for 326 hectares, the regional state forest of Monte Martello extends, with ceduo forest and reforestation in conifers.
Holy Mary of the Stars in Monte Martello of Cagli is therefore one of the most evocative sanctuaries for the wonderful landscape in which it stands. Today the sanctuary has more historical artistic value than devotional as it is open only once a year on the occasion of the nativity of Mary which falls on 8 September.