The Sanctuary of the Quercioli is located a hundred meters from the station of Massa centro, and is entitled to “Mary, Help of Christians”. An ancient fresco representing the Virgin Mother with the Child and Saint Anthony of Padua in prayer are venerated there. The painting dates back to the mid-18th century. Domenico Nocchi had it painted on the wall of his house in 1754.
At his death the house was sold and was later completely abandoned, so the sacred image remained covered with brambles.
On September 19, 1831, three women went for a walk in that locality, and were struck by the sight of that beautiful image all smiling and, in the first days of March of the following year, one of the three women led a gravely ill granddaughter to the place, and after praying, was suddenly healed. On Easter Monday of 1832, when the fame of the miracle spread, devotion to Her started. It was immediately thought to erect a church which was finished the following year.
On May 25, 1835 a miracle occurred: Giuseppe Bertozzi, soldier of the ducal army, blind, regained his sight after praying to the Madonna dei Quercioli.
In 1932, while the Capuchin father Dionisio Cantarelli was rector of the Shrine, the temple was expanded.
In 1909, the Sanctuary passed under the direction of the Capuchin Friars of the religious Province of Lucca, who still lend their religious service.
In 1946 the Sanctuary was elevated to a parish and the image was solemnly crowned on June 6, 1948. The coronation took place as the completion of the vow made by the population during the war, and in thanksgiving for Mary’s protection of the people throughout the area.
In 1973, extensive restoration work started.
The first church was a Greek cross, with a majestic dome, designed by the architect Giuseppe Marchelli of Modena, and a century later, the church was transformed into a Latin cross. The soldier’s miracle, painted in the main arch, was done in 1932 by the painter Oreste Bontemps of Massa.
It is a remake of a small oil painting executed on wood, and left by fellow soldiers to the Quercioli Sanctuary in memory of the miracle. In the Sanctuary there is a tempera painting, by an unknown author, depicting the Madonna with the emblems of the Conception, Saint Mary Maddalene, Saint Catherine, Virgin and martyr, and some angels. This painting was brought from the convent of the Capuchin friars of Massa and dates back between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th.
The harmonious building preserves some valuable sacred furnishings and a wooden predella, from the sixteenth century: depicting the Eternal Father with angels, attributed to the school of Ghirlandaio.
Sito Ufficiale del Santuario – http://www.santuariodeiquercioli.it/storia_del_santuario.html