On May 22, 1527, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a young orphan, 22 years of age, who alone and in poverty had to take care of two brothers, one of whom was very ill. The message is so beautiful that Our Lady gave us through this girl.
HISTORY OF THE APPARITION
It is said that on 14 or 15 May 1527 Maria Amadini, a 22 year old girl belonging to a poor family, not knowing what to do to feed the family and in particular to alleviate the suffering of her sick little brother, left home early to go to collect wood to take to the baker with the hope of being able to get some bread in exchange. The young woman, very devoted, lived poorly with her two younger siblings, whom she cared for lovingly; in particular Andrea, twelve years old, sick due to a serious illness that covered his body with repulsive sores.
While she was cutting the base of a trunk in the woods, moving the earth, she uncovered pure silver coins. First, she was afraid then inspired by the Lord she began to collect the coins filling her apron and with this precious load she went to the country showing it to everyone. Many went to that place with shovels and spades hoping to find other treasures, but nobody found anything, thus proving the exceptional nature of the fact. But this was only the premise for even more sensational facts.
On May 22, about eight days after the coins were found, Maria Amadini had gone to the Colle della Croce di Savenone (Hills of the Savenone Cross) to recite the Rosary and thank Our Lady for her fortune. When suddenly while she was recollected in prayer, she heard a voice calling her by name. She looks around but sees no one. Scared she was about to retrace her steps when she heard again the voice. Fear increases but the voice once again calls her firmly so that she finally responds with a typically Brescia expression “ben” (well).
As she raises her eyes, anxiously and curiously, a Woman appears in front of her with a large cloak and a monk-like dress, of such solemnity and grave appearance and of such beauty and splendor that she gasped and began to cry. After this solemn apparition the Lady turns to Maria gently and says to her:
“You answered well because you received well and you will receive well. Know that I am the Virgin Mary of whom you are so devoted; persevere in the good as you have done up to now and do not fail in your devotion because in this way you will be saved. Know that on the first of the present month, that is May, my Son had prepared a scourge above the earth which was never been heard of, and I knelt at his feet, showing him the breast to which I nursed him, and asking him for grace, I implored remission of that punishment. This you will have to make known to everyone, telling them that each one must fast three Saturdays on bread and water and do penance for his sins so that my Son will not be angry once again. By doing all this they need not fear any punishment”.
This is most likely story of the apparition, even though over time it has been variously colored and expanded by tradition and popular piety. It is said that to test the truthfulness of the apparition, Our Lady told Mary to prove it by inserting her hand into her breast and would have pulled it out with leprosy; while putting it back in her breast would have healed it. She also asked that a shrine be built there and that all the sick who had contributed to the construction would be cured.
Great was the impression upon the people of the event that after a few days the construction of the Sanctuary was decided, and it was entrusted to the architect Agostino Castelli. The presence of faithful and continuous pilgrimages is proven by a series of facts including the granting of indulgences in 1533, the authorization for the construction of an inn to meet the needs of the pilgrims. The concession issued on 8 July of the same year 1527 the use of a portable altar for celebrations while waiting for the construction of the church. The graces and favors of Our Lady for the citizens of Boveno were many and all documented.
The Sanctuary of the “Madonna of Bovegno”
In the sanctuary, Mary, as Our Lady of Mercy is venerated with particular devotion, miraculously appeared on May 22, 1527 to the young Maria Amadini: in that same place the following year the visionary was buried. The construction of the magnificent Renaissance building began immediately. Since many people flocked from every place to pour down their offerings or to lend their work in that first building site, completed in 1533. The sacred rites were celebrated initially using only a simple temporary altar.
Near the shrine there is a particularly active school or brotherhood that collected offerings, honors the holidays, performs work of assistance and Christian charity and contributes to keeping the Marian devotion alive. One can reach the sanctuary (recently restored thanks to the initiative of the archpriest Giuseppe Savio) by an internal street dotted with santelle (statuettes): some are dedicated to the Virgin, others evoke the miraculous apparition. The sacred path continues along a dirt road leading to the small church of Eto di Lavone dedicated to S. Nicola, where the Madonna of Mercy (invoked in ancient times against pestilences) is depicted in a Renaissance fresco with the mantle protecting the faithful and little disciples.