Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Madonna del Ghisallo

Today is the feast day of the Patroness of Bicyclists, the Madonna del Ghisallo.

Medieval legend has it that a certain Count Ghisallo was traveling near the village of Magréglio when he was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting a image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, pled for Our Lady’s protection - and was miraculously saved from the robbers. As the story spread, the Madonna del Ghisallo became known as patroness of local travellers. In more recent times, cyclists would often stop to rest and pray at the chapel, which is at the top of a steep hill. After World War II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine, proposed Ghisallo as the site of a shrine for bicyclists, and she was given as patroness of cyclists on 13 October 1949 by Pope Pius XII. The chapel has become equal part religious shrine and cycling museum. There is an eternal flame that burns there in memory of the cyclists who are no longer with us, and services each Christmas Eve and the Feast of All Souls commemorate them.

The above photo is taken from Pez Cycling News, which has many more pictures of this strange and gorgeous church. Thanks!

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