Alongside the choice of great texts on the Virgin Mary, FSSPX.News now proposes to present shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which show the honor given to the Virgin Mary by the peoples. These sanctuaries are very often associated with a history of graces that it is instructive to discover in order to develop and enkindle love for our good Mother in Heaven.
This first step is to present the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Source (Santa Maria della Fonte) located in Caravaggio, in the province of Bergamo in Lombardy, in the north of Italy, near Milan.
Starting in the year 1431, war had reignited between the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan, which were fighting for the territories of the Gera d’Adda – a region of the Lombard plain located between the Adda River in the west, the Serio River to the east, and the Bergamo ditch to the north. The city of Caravaggio would be a crucial junction point for many years throughout the 15th century.
Between 1432 and 1441, then between 1448 and 1453, Caravaggio passed alternately under the domination of Milan and Venice, and was the scene of battles, truces, and negotiations of “chapters” on both sides that allowed its inhabitants to survive. Peace was precarious.
On May 26, 1432, at five o’clock in the afternoon, a 32 year-old-woman named Gianetta, from Caravaggio, married to Francesco Varoli – an angry and violent man – “known by all for her virtuous comportment, her Christian piety, her sincerely honest life” went out of the village to bring bundles of grass for her animals. She had a heavy heart, have been beaten by her husband.
It was then that a great light dazzled her and she saw coming from above and standing next to her a beautiful and admirable Lady, majestic, with an amiable face, venerable appearance, and unspeakable beauty, clothed in a blue dress and her head covered with a white veil.
Overwhelmed, Gianetta exclaimed: “Virgin Mary!” It was then that the Virgin told her that her husband would change his behavior and asked her to do three things.
First, to tell everyone to fast on bread and water on Fridays. In addition, they must consecrate Saturday afternoon to prayer in thanksgiving for the many great favors obtained through the intercession of the Virgin with her divine Son.
In addition, Jeannette was charged with convincing the Venetians and Milanese to make peace. Finally, she must ask for the end of divisions in the Church, especially to ask the easterners to return to unity. For confirmation, the Virgin brought forth a miraculous spring in the place where she stood.
Sick people went to the source and were delivered from their ills. The news quickly spread of the power exercised by God in this place through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
The Bishop of Cremona, Cesare Speciano, would confirm the authenticity of the apparition, called for the faithful to comply with the requests for prayer and penance formulated by the Virgin, and solicited the construction of a sanctuary.
The seer met Marc Secco, Lord of Caravaggio, Philippe Marie Visconti, duke of Milan, then the doge Francesco Foscari. In 1433, they signed a peace agreement, a peace which was only relative.
Tradition reports that a jug of water from the miraculous spring was brought to the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus and performed healings. Nevertheless, the emperor – certainly more for political than religious reasons – went to the Council of Florence and signed the union of the schismatic Greeks with the papacy in 1439.
The current sanctuary was built by St. Charles Borromeo during the 16th century and succeeded a first religious building constructed in the 15th century. Italian immigration has made the cult of Santa Maria del Fonte an object of devotion in many other places, notably in Farroupilha in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, where the largest Marian temple dedicated to her is located. Another sanctuary also exists in Tisno in Croatia.