HISTORY of the MARIAN APPARITION
On March 25, 1613, the day of the Annunciation, a farmer named Domenico del Biondo was going through the cross-section district of Pietranico in order to check his crops, when a woman in a starry white dress appeared to him.
The woman asked him for the restoration of a sanctuary, then disappeared. This was the Queen of Heaven, according to an inscription on the oratory built in the place of the apparition in 1618.
In March 1675, a predator horde of military deserters plundered the city. When they threatened to return that spring, the citizens prayed to the Madonna della Croce, and on May 2, she declared that the city was spared.
Pietranico celebrates the Lady of the Cross on May 3, previously it was the Catholic feast of the Holy Cross, which was probably the patronal feast of the District of the Cross before the apparition. On the eve of Her feast, on May 2, people lit hundreds of bonfires in and around the city so that the whole area would seem to be on fire while the 1600 statue of Our Lady parades through it. On May 3, the statue goes in procession from the parish church to the rural Oratory.
Oratory of Santa Maria della Croce
The church of Pietranico at first glance looks like a simple country building used for worship. Any visitor who crosses the threshold of the Oratory for the first time is presented with an interior so rich that one could never have imagined a treasure hiding behind that simple facade. Inside, you can admire molding and gilding, friezes and decorations, fake marble, canvases, and paintings.
Considering the architectural heritage, the stuccoes, the frescoes and the paintings enclosed in the church, it can be said that Santa Maria della Croce is a jewel of art, as well as one of the very few examples of unique baroque style of the whole region. According to Vincenzo Balzano, an illustrious scholar and writer of Abruzzese art, it is a small masterpiece of the seventeenth century, which together with Santa Maria delle Grazie di Alanno, contains “the most perfect Italian Baroque in terms of architecture, painting, decoration and carvings “. This is a very flattering judgment, shared by other illustrious scholars during the twentieth century who have widely reported on it.
Translation by: Fr. Maximilian Tremocha, F.I.