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Castiglione Fiorentino - Arezzo (Italy) 1200

   
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La Madonna del BagnoLa Madonna del Bagno (The Madonna of the Bath)

It rises to Noceta, a few kilometers from Castiglione Fiorentino in Val di Chio. This valley has been called "the Valley of God." We do not know the exact reason for this expression, but certainly those who have spoken (the Grand Duke Ferdinand seems to have been visiting the city) must have been attracted by the beauty of these places, full of vineyards, olive trees, green-clad hills and dotted with houses and villages: La Pieve, Noceta, Pievuccia, Pergognano, Gozzano, St. Margaret, St. Christina, Orzale, Petreto, Polvano, Mother.

A second reason why this valley has been called the Valley of God, even if it did not fit the intent of Ferdinand II, perhaps, may lie in the fact that the population Castiglione has always demonstrated great faith simple, humble, sincere, and has consistently taken as a reference point, the Church, the parish, religious traditions, the Sanctuary of the Madonna.

It is well documented the origin of this shrine, which dates back to 1200. It tells of an apparition of the Virgin to two shepherds. The Lady asked them to build a chapel. On that occasion the water flowed from a fountain and quickly became an instrument of countless miracles for the sick, who came from all over.

The first historical account is documented in the "Book of the parties" of the town of Castiglione Fiorentino in the year 1527. Then there was a small church, the town grew under his patronage, in 1563. These reports are very important and we show how ancient communities Castiglione's devotion to his sanctuary. The little old church was enlarged in 1711 and almost completely rebuilt in 1877.

The custom of drinking or bathing in its waters is certainly ancient. This is therefore the small shrine of Lourdes Vai Chios. Set in an enchanting place. The cliff, surrounded by a sea of green, guarded by seven centuries echo the loving invitation to praise, addressed to the Virgin shepherdesses. The image has been venerated by some attributed to Sansovino, but is untested. Again it is a Madonna and Child, venerated under the title of Mary Help of Christians. And 'the title, full of meaning, also purchased from Don Bosco: Our Lady Help of Christians.

Each of us in life has certainly experienced the help of Mary, help us put in a strong way that winning the confidence and sin. Mary is our model and also our advocate. In places where his name is called the Christian is freed from the bonds to raise our sights to the usual things above and rekindle hope. One such place is certainly the sanctuary of the bathroom, so dear to the whole community of Castiglione Fiorentino, defined by Repetti "earth conspicuous, almost noble and small walled city with an outstanding college". In paying tribute to the Madonna del Bagno in Castiglione Fiorentino join the course lively and community care Brolio Castroncello, The Ship, Manchester and turreted Montecchio.

Castiglione Fiorentino is an industrious town, rich in works of art placed at the center of Val di Chiana, the Rome-Florence train line. Among the magnificent cypress trees, there are many old buildings, including the beautiful church of San Francesco, built in the thirteenth century, flanked by a beautiful cloister and baptistery, where you can admire, among other magnificent works of art, a beautiful terracotta Della Robbia.

A little over a mile from the town, between two hills, rough terrain and rocky, is the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians called the Bath, for a spring of water miraculously resulted in confirmation of the Madonna with two young shepherdesses . The first historical safe, on the Sanctuary, is documented in the "Book of the parties" of the municipality of Castiglione Fiorentino in the year 1527, which allows us to reconstruct the incident.

The Appearance and the source

In 1200, two young shepherdesses, while guarding their flocks, are wont to sing the simple and ingenuous praise around a newsstand on which is painted the image of the Madonna. Suddenly a glow shakes, and between the light beam appears to them a lady majestic and regal. The two girls, scared, were about to take off in a headlong flight, when a loving voice reassures them and tells them:

"My children, fear not! I am Mary, the Mother of God, who wanted to extend my special protection of these places, I would have erected a temple here, modest, but stating that my presence and residence of my virtues. Go and tell your parents that my desire to palesino Rulers of the neighboring country. "

The lucky girls tell what they saw and heard their parents, who would report it immediately to the authorities of Castiglione Fiorentino, but, as is natural, did not lend any faith to the pious story. The Apparition was repeated a second and a third time. This last time, as if to confirm the request, it added the unexpected result of a fountain of clear water.

The news of several appearances and even more the appearance of the fountain, it spreads like wildfire. People flocked en masse, finding the truth of what has been reported and the Rulers of the City should recognize as truth what happened. As if to repair the initial incredulity, immediately put themselves to work building a small chapel, which surrounds the shrine before which the girls prayed. It also built a small bowl to collect the water from the spring, which now appears miraculous. The chapel is filled with numerous ex-votos, giving witness.

You can not know which was shown in the picture kiosk. The current one, terracotta, represents the Madonna seated, with the blessing Child on her knees, surrounded by angels. According to ancient tradition, was the work of the famous painter Andrea Sansovino, who in 1513 was in Castiglione Fiorentino in the time of Pope Leo X. He also created the two statues, kneeling in the act of devotional worship, representing the two shepherdesses, who admired the altar.

In 1523, the modest chapel being now unable to contain the faithful who come from every part of the Authority of the City and all the people of Castiglione Fiorentino decided to erect, at a distance of about twenty-five arms, a new larger church and majestic. Even before it is completed, we moved the image of the Virgin, but the next day, the picture is found in its usual place. This event occurs three times, and therefore is considered to be the will of Our Lady appeared to remain where he was and where she had brought forth a prodigious source.

Therefore the following year, the Bishop of Arezzo, Monsignor Francis Minerbetti, with great solemnity and concourse of people, crowned by his own hand, the picture. Since then, every year, the first Sunday in June, the Local Authority, the Clergy and People of Castiglione Fiorentino go in procession to attend the Feast of Our Lady of the Bath. The devotion to Our Lady of the Bath is growing thanks to the many who receive those who flock here, drinking or bathing with deep faith in the miraculous waters.

In addition, a new and surprising miracle, attested by the writers of the time, begins to manifest itself. On Saturday night, for several years, the villagers of Noceta, seen from the top of the Chapel of Our Lady, emanate light rays, which are spread around a long time illuminating the sanctuary and its surroundings. Start now another pious custom, many from near and far flock, on the sabbath day, with great devotion and humility to visit Our Lady of the Bath and received great graces.

But it still remains the problem of the narrowness of the primitive chapel! After an initial magnification at the initiative of two priests, cousins to each other, and Thomas Rudolph Schiani, the devotion of the faithful and the ardor of the Rector of that time, are about the difficult task of building a new church, it has laid the stone on April 1, 1875, and is open to the public worship August 14, 1887. The new church, therefore, is the fruit of the piety of the faithful of the various parishes of the noble land of Castiglione Fiorentino, and more especially of tenders and the labor of the faithful of Noceta, inspired by the generosity of their pastor, who took the initiative in every holy He has.

On the left side of the facade rises, serious and solemn, the bell tower, equipped with five bells, while the right side slope and rise in the bathrooms. A recent construction offers comfort to devotees, with respect for each standard toilet, to bathe it with faith in the miraculous waters, as at the Grotto of Lourdes.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, once again manifests herself to the people in faith that she will take care of their physical needs.

Don Mario Morra, sdb

Source: Journal "Mary Help of Christians", January 2007 - www.donbosco-torino.it

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