“The Child Jesus escapes from our Lady’s arm and goes down to the streets to play with three of his peers. It happened on April 17, 1555, the first Thursday after Easter, in Corbetta, an elegant town, mostly due to the presence of numerous patrician villas, it is about twenty kilometers from Milan on the road to Vigevano “.
This news, which has the taste of the sensational, could be considered the result of pure fantasy, if it did not have the support of historical data. The three little boys who were playing on the square have their names identified historically: Cesare dello Stampino, Antonio della Torre and his brother Giovanni Angelo, ten years old, who was deaf-mute from birth, and familiarly called “Navello”.
On the facade of the church of S. Nicola is depicted a beautiful image of our Lady, seated on a throne, with the Baby Jesus on Her lap. On that day, as every day, three boys were playing on the little square area in front, when suddenly a cry was heard with a clear voice: The Child! Our Lady! They interrupted their game and started attracting everyone’s attention. It is Giovanni (the deaf-mute child) who first became aware that the Child Jesus took to the streets to play with them. His wonder expressed into a scream of joy which at the same, he instantly reacquires the use of his voice. On the square, the Child Jesus observed pleasingly the children’s state of wonder and amusement. Even our Lady seemingly surprised in being aware of the flight of the Child, She too went down to the square to take him back, like a good mother fetching his beloved child.
The boys, having recovered from their initial amazement, left immediately the game they were playing and ran to tell the story to their parents The news spreads in a flash starting in the small village and even beyond. The episode seemed to be the result of the imagination of the boys but the irrefutable proof remains: Navello (Giovanni Angelo) speaks now, while before he was dumb and deaf!
It is the first miracle of a long series miracles of our Lady: in the space of only 80 days after the apparition, there are about fifty attested miracles. We can remember some of the first to have received miracles: Serafino Barchetto on 20 April, Beltramina Marcotti on 21, Pietro da Siena on 22, Tommaso Ferrario and many others. Eventually our Lady of Corbetta takes the name of Our Lady of Miracles.
The following year 1556, the Chapter of Canons, in order to be able to receive the many pilgrims and to protect the painting exposed to the elements, decided to build a Sanctuary, appointing a commission to follow its work; Even though the work proceeded slowly in those calamitous years. Among the many difficulties were the terrible plague, as remembered by Manzoni in “The Betrothed”, and of the numerous invasion wars.
But already by 1560 the Roman Curia began the process for the examination of the authenticity of the Apparition, and in 1562, at the request of the young Cardinal S. Carlo Borromeo, Pope Pius IV granted the plenary indulgence, in the form of a Jubilee year.
Only at the end of 17th century was the upper Sanctuary be said to be complete but will take its present appearance only after the work carried out in 18th and 19th century. Despite the multiplicity of architectural lines, the Church is of a harmonious beauty. The interior, with a Latin cross, includes six side chapels, dedicated to various saints, and rich in many works of art. The frescoes in the chapel of St. Anthony, the work of the painter Stefano Montalto; the 1600 wooden Crucifix, and the frescoes by Giuseppe Reina and those of Giovanni Perabò, depicting the miracle.
Above the central altar, in an elevated position, is the painting of the Miracle, a work of refined elegance, inspired by Tuscan models of the 13th century, from which the artist Gregorio de Zavatteri drew inspiration for the sweetness of the faces in the frescoes.
After an extensive and costly restoration, the Sanctuary was consecrated in 1954, a Marian Year. During the year 1955, the fourth centenary of the Apparition, the Chapter of St. Peter’s in the Vatican granted the faculty to crown the Image of our Lady and Child Jesus. The precious crowns were placed on the head of our Lady and Child Jesus, on April 17th of that year, by the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Blessed Pope Paul VI.
– Don Mario Morra SDB
Official Website of the Sanctuary in Italian – http://www.santuariodicorbetta.it/il-miracolo/