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Madonna della Mazza church

Municipality: Pretoro (CH)

Locality: Valle della Madonna (Virgin's Valley), at about 1,020 m a.s.l.

Image of the building of the "Madonna della Mazza"

Building: It consists of two rooms: the hermitage, on two levels, and a church with a single nave with a Romanesque gate in the front, without archway, but with Solomonic columns ending in foliate capitals.
The higher part of the front has a crowning with Lombard bands, which continues with some interruptions along the side facing the mount.
On this side, in the higher sector, there are four conch windows and a fifth one on the apse; instead, in the lower part a gate is visible but currently walled-up, even it was the second entrance to the church. The lateral gate is constituted only by an architrave, with a very decorated fret. On the inside, across the room, there's a great arch, currently walled up too, that's oriented towards the wall pointing to the valley and probably was the ancient entrance to the hermitage area. On the altar there's the fourteenth-century wooden statue by which the building takes its name: it's the Virgin and Child holding a scepter in the right hand.

Image of the rear of the building "Madonna della Mazza"

History and traditions: The building was once called St. Maria del Monte and was attested for the first time in 1324 and 1325. It was used as a church and a hermitage; a 1568 document reports: S. Maria de Monte: Ubi manca romito (St. Maria del Monte: defective of hermitage). In 1838 the church was destroyed by earthquakes and by the hermits' abandonment. In 1843 observant people could appreciate the sacred building, with its hermitage, after the complete restoration. Since this date the tradition of bringing the Virgin's statue from the church to the town on every last Sunday of April and of putting it back in the original location on the first Sunday of July continues. According to history, once, on the 2nd of July, the procession couldn't take place due to snowfalls, but during the night the Virgin went back by foot on the mountain.

Reachable by: car or path E4

Visit information: CEA (Center for Environmental Education) Grande Faggio – Tel. +39. 0871.898143 - +39. 335.5995995

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