SANCTUARY OF SANTA MARIA DEL FONTE
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Fonte is a majestic building which lies at the end of the long tree-lined avenue linking it to the Porta Nuova Arch, the entrance gate to the town centre. The history of the Sanctuary begins with the apparition of the Virgin Mary on 26 May 1432. On that day, a peasant woman named Giannetta de Vacchi, who was working in a field in the vicinity of Caravaggio, reported the apparition of a woman of impressive beauty in all majesty, whom Giannetta identified as the Virgin Mary.
A gush of water sprung immediately forth from where the Virgin Mary had appeared and those who would go to the spring were healed from their ailments. In the centuries thereafter, a modest shrine was built in the very same place and later it was expanded and became the present-day Sanctuary of Caravaggio.
The core of the Sanctuary is the Sacro Speco, an accessible area under the high altar, decorated with mosaic patterns and the statues of Our Lady with Giannetta. Underneath the Sacro Speco is the exact place where the apparition occurred. There is a sacred spring and pilgrims can draw water and drink.
The harmony of proportion among the 60-metre-high (196.8 ft) dome, the high altar and the Sacro Speco, as well as the symmetry among the Sanctuary, the outdoor fountain and the tree-lined avenue are great examples of balancing proportions and accuracy in architecture. The interior of the Sanctuary houses a 5000-pipe organ, many chapels and is exquisitely decorated with frescoes by the Caravaggio painters Moriggia and Cavenaghi.
Pope John Paul II paid a visit to the Sanctuary from 19 to 21 June 1992 over the course of his pastoral visits in Lombardy. During those days, he stayed in the Sanctuary lodgings and, among other activities, he took part in the opening of the Spirituality Centre Chapel. John Paul II even left his rosary in the hand of the statue of Our Lady in the Sacro Speco. And the rosary has been in her hand ever since.
Location and visitor information
The nave and the Sacro Speco are open to the public during the church opening hours. Access to the Spirituality Centre, the Pope Chapel as well as some parts of the Sanctuary is permitted prior approval of the Sanctuary’s administration.
Location: viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, approximately 4 km (2.48 mi) from the A35 Brebemi motorway exit, approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) from Caravaggio train station. The Sanctuary is provided with car parks.
For information and for planning group visits please contact either the Cultural Office (Ufficio Cultura) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +39 0363 356213, or the Sanctuary Information Office (Segreteria del Santuario) at email@example.com or at +39 0363 3571.
For further information please visit the official website of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Fonte