Bovino, Italy: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Valleverde
The history of Our Lady of Valleverde:
One of the many little-known shrines in Italy, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Valleverde dates from the spring of 1266. A farmer named Nicolò had a dream in which he was in the forest of Mengaga to collect firewood with some friends. And there appeared a woman, who asked him some water from a nearby fountain. Nicholas gave it to her and asked the lady who she was. She said to be the “Mother of the Son of God “, who had left a country where men were abandoned to sin and had come to protect the people of Puglia and especially Bovino.
She told him to go to the Bishop to and tell him to build a sanctuary to the name of “Santa Maria di Valleverde”.
Although the dream seemed very real, Nicholas did nothing to respond to the request. The Blessed Mother returned to him in dreams four more times, but he still did nothing. Then, he became lame, which he took to be punishment for not following up on the request. He decided to go to the Bishop to tell the story…..and was suddenly healed. The Bishop was receptive and asked for the exact location where the Blessed Mother said a church should be built.
The Madonna appeared in a dream to Nicolò and designed, using little bundles of grass, the perimeter of the Church, the place where to place the altar and the doors. When the Bishop, the clergy and people went to the site they found the bundles placed excactly the way they were described.
About the Shrine of Our Lady of Valleverde:
The Church was built in just four months and became a popular pilgrimage destination. Later a monastery was built here by the Cistercian Monks, and then later on the Friars Minor took over.
Finally, in the 20th Century, the Passionists restored the Church and Monastery. On October 3, 1965 a ceremony was held marking the beginning of the Marian year. Among those in attendance were Carol Wotywa, Archbishop of Krakow. In 1965 a cornerstone was laid for a new sanctuary to replace the old one. Carol Wotywa, by then Pope John Paul II, again visited here in 1987.
Traveling to Valleverde:
The shrine is about 20 miles southwest of Foggia, which makes it ideal to combine with other shrines in the area such as Padre Pio’s Shrine in nearby San Giovanni Rotondo. There is train service as far as Foggia, from there you would have to take a taxi or bus.
GPS coordinates: 41° 15′ 5.2524” N, 15° 20′ 29.4792” E
Tel: (+39) 0881 966-614
We are not sure if they have a current website. Be aware there is also a shrine of Valleverde in Sicily and that shrine does have a website, but it is not the one we are talking about here.
Sources: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Valleverde. Photos courtesy Tom & Sue Melillo.