Sacro Monte and Campo dei Fiori

Art, as an expression of a profound faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, his Mother, has made this mountain “sacred”. Behind the city of Varese, at an altitude of 880 meters above sea level, the medieval village of Santa Maria del Monte has nestled.

The sacredness of the mountain dates back to the early centuries of Christianity and is lost in legend. Already an outpost and natural bulwark against barbarian invasions in the late empire, the Tower of the Arians bears witness to this, a Roman construction now inside the Monastery of the Ambrosian Hermits; in the year 389, it witnessed the miraculous defeat of the last bastions of Arian heresy by Saint Ambrose.

Here the Bishop of Milan celebrated with other bishops a solemn thanksgiving mass on an altar carved into the rock and placed a statue of the Madonna venerated as the Mother of the Son of God.

On April 24, 1452, Caterina Moriggi from Pallanza climbed the mountain, followed shortly after by Giuliana Puricelli from Busto-Verghera (both beatified in 1769). In 1474, Pope Sixtus IV authorized the erection of the Monastery which still stands on the Mountain as a place of prayer.

In 1604, as confirmation of the now widespread resonance of the Sanctuary, the Sacred Way of the Rosary was born by express desire of the hermit and then abbess of the Monastery Tecla Maria Cid, who found in Father Capuchin Giovan Battista Aguggiari a great promoter and amplifier of the project.

The summit of the Mountain, until then a place dedicated to meditation on the Passion of Christ due to the presence of the “Calvary mountain”, became a place of Glory and the Sanctuary the endpoint of the Glorious Mysteries. The grand project, which found in Cardinal Federico Borromeo a convinced supporter, was realized by the architect Giuseppe Bernasconi and saw the most prepared artists, painters, and sculptors of the time at work. It is thanks to their genius and the work of unknown workers supported by faith, generosity, and sacrifices of many people that today we can walk the Sacred Way of the Rosary, in which faith, art, and nature interpenetrate, involving the pilgrim in a human and Christian asceticism.

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