The Lady of the Woods asked a young deaf-mute farmer for a sheep and the construction of a sanctuary which she herself indicated the place and size with an oak twig.
HISTORY OF THE APPARITION
The Marian Shrine of the Madonna del Bosco (Our Lady of the Woods) is located in Pannesi, in the municipality of Lumarzo, a few kilometers from Genoa. It rises among thick chestnut woods where, according to tradition, the Holy Virgin Mary appeared to a deaf-mute Felice Olcese, of Pannesi, while he was gathering mushrooms in the woods. Our Lady asked the young man to have her build a temple in her honor and memory, also giving him indications of its shape with an oak twig. The young man instantly regained his hearing and speech. Gratefully he promised, according to Our Lady’s wish, the construction of the temple to which all the neighboring countries took part and in particular the brotherhood dedicated to the Marian cult.
A primitive chapel was soon built on the place of the apparition, a plaque engraved on the stone placed above the door of the sacristy, testifies to its presence since 1583:
“[…] It is likely that it recalls the time of its construction of a primitive chapel that used to exist here before the present Sanctuary was built, even if we it did not pass with it to its posterity the exact year in which the prodigious healing of Felice Olcese took place with the apparition of the Blessed Virgin. […] “.
We add that some decades ago were found the ancient walls behind the choir of the current Sanctuary; the remains could represent evidence of a previous chapel. The Sanctuary, which was also a hermitage, that is, a meeting place for religious laity dedicated to contemplative solitude and prayer, has three naves with a length of about 30 meters including the presbytery.
There are three altars, all of which have a façade, and the main altar has a marble balustrade. The one on the left is completed by a painting purchased in 1813 and dedicated to the Most Holy Name of the Virgin Mary; the right one with an icon purchased in 1812 by the confraternity of the Most Holy Name of Mary depicting, according to Terrile, Mary and Pope Innocent XI ° with John Sobieski king of Poland (victor over the Turks). For Remondini, on the other hand, it would represent Mary, S. Gregorio and S. Giorgio.
The main feastdays are celebrated on May 19 (feast of the Marian apparition) and September 12 on the feast of the Name of Mary. The statue of Our Lady of the Woods is carried in procession on the Ascension Day and on the anniversary of the Name of Mary which is celebrated on the first Sunday after 8 September. The two feasts do not have local origins, but are linked to previous religious events in use in Genoa. The first has its roots in the secular feasts of the 1400s including country dances, various entertainments and palio completed by celebrations in honor of the Madonna, the other has a more precise origin, being born as a thanksgiving for the Christian victory over the Turks, which took place in Vienna in September 1683.
To reach the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Bosco, the most comfortable road is the one that starts from the Recco highway exit, going towards Uscio and then reaches Pannesi di Lumarzo. From here, through a road that takes place among thick chestnut woods, one can reach the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Bosco in about 20 minutes on foot or in less than 10 minutes by car. Outside the Sanctuary, in addition to a large green space, there is also the possibility of having a picnic, with a place equipped for the purpose, right in the place where a splendid fountain with spring water stands. At the Sanctuary there is also a picnic area.
PRAYER TO THE MADONNA DEL BOSCO
Glorious and blessed Virgin,
who, appearing to the deaf-mute Felice Olcese,
manifested your desire to have a sanctuary
in the silence of the woods,
listen to my prayer.
Be my comfort in my pain,
hope in adversity,
guide in the path of life.
With Your help,
I promise to observe the law of God,
and in particular to sanctify the holy days
as You have recommended;
and after having loved you in life,
I hope to come to see you in heaven
and stay with you for all eternity.
(Three Hail Marys).