The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Rovere occupies the remains of an ancient oak grove sacred to Diana. The Church was dedicated to the Annunciation on July 27, 1505, replacing a previous church. Her wooden statue of the Madonna and the Child, which is said to have been found in an oak tree, was dated to 1300.
The old devotion received new life after the miracles of April 1671. On the night of April 3, after having worked all day in the fields, Giacinto Perato di Rollo, 50, told his wife that there was something strange in his arm left, that it was numb and paralyzed. After doctors failed to cure him, on April 18, with his arm in a sling, he led his young donkey to pasture. Here are his words,
“A few hours before noon, a few meters from me, I saw a woman dressed in intense blue, shining like the sun … she told me to entrust myself to Our Lady, who would help me”.
The next day, he went with his wife and a friend to Mass at the Shrine. At the consecration, he fell unconscious. When he woke up 45 minutes later, his arm was fine.
On May 10, Our Lady reappeared and asked that a chapel be built on the site of the apparitions, which was soon done.
Many other graces.
The sanctuary of Our Lady of the Oak (Madonna della Rovere) was also the scene of numerous other miraculous healings. History records nine of them in 1671 alone, all authenticated by the bishop of Alberga, Monsignor Tommaso Pinello, who collected numerous sworn testimonies. Let us present at least three of them:
Angelica Viale della Chiappa, struck three years earlier by paralysis in the arm, thigh and leg, was loaded onto a donkey between two rabbits and accompanied to the Santuario della Rovere, where she recovered;
Caterina Languasco of Oneglia, aged 15, for seven years, following a fall from a ladder, had been “crippled”. Accompanied in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Oak, she fell to the ground “stunned” and when she woke up she was healed;
Carlo Francesco Viale of Diano Castello, aged 10, affected since birth by a fleshy hernia, as big as an egg. After prayer novenas and parents’ pilgrimages to the Santuary, the hernia disappeared.
The Crowning of the Image
On 23 December 1820, the chaplain and the builders of the church of Our Lady of the Oak, then under the jurisdiction of the parish of S. Bartholomeo, obtained authorization from the Chapter of the Vatican Basilica to proceed with the coronation of the statue of “Saint Mary of the Oak, revered since ancient times”. The diocesan bishop Monsignor Carmine Cordiviola was delegated for this purpose.
The solemn coronation took place on September 8, 1921 in the churchyard, where a majestic altar was set up. The churchyard was crowded in every sector by the people from Porto Maurizio, Oneglia, Diano, Cervo, Andora and from other neighboring places. During the ceremony, amid the happy ringing of the bells and the thunderous roar of hundreds of firecrackers, people sobbed and wept.
Every year, on February 2, the Purification feast also called “Candlemas”, the Sanctuary is a destination for many faithful. According to an ancient custom, which we find in the stories of all the sanctuaries of our valleys, this religious festival is accompanied by a secular one, originally created to be a moment of meeting, exchange of goods, sale of livestock, with folkloristic dances, music and exchange of foods.
Today there is only one fair that continues the following day. Also on August 15, the feast of the Assumption, and on September 8, the Nativity of Mary, are celebrated with great turnout of pilgrims.
Every day, for almost all the time of the year, many tourists come to Our Lady of the Oak, also from different distant countries. They come to entrust to Mary with her own journey, to tell her about their concerns and to say their joyful thanks for the gifts received.
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(Foto e informazioni da “Nostra Signora della Rovere”, Maria di Nazareth, www.mariadinazareth.it .)