Foggia, Italy: Shrine of the Most Holy Mary Mother of God Crowned
The story of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Poor:
About 8 miles from the city of Foggia lies a shrine that dates back at least to the twelfth Century. The name is variously shown as “BVM Mother of God Crowned” and “BVM Mother of the Poor”.
The origins of the story are a bit lost in time and there are actually two versions. One recounts that on the last Saturday of April in the year1001, the Count of Ariano Irpino, who was on a hunting trip was awakened in the middle of the night and drawn to a place where flashes of light emanated, and when he drew close a beautiful woman was standing there. The other version tells of the count stalking a deer and came upon one kneeling in front of a tree and the tree became luminous and the beautiful woman suddenly appeared.
Regardless of the version of the story, the woman identified herself as the Mother of God and requested that a shrine in her honor be built on that spot, and that it not be adorned with gold or precious ornaments….it was to be designed for the poor.
About the Sanctuary of Mary Mother of God Crowned:
A small chapel was built and it became a place of pilgrimage. Over the years several orders had charge of the shrine but there was not much money to maintain it, especially after an earthquake damaged it in the 19th Century. Then a joint cooperation between the Church and the government of Italy resulted in the construction of a new church in 1950.
The new shrine has a piece of wood from the original small chapel under the altar of the new shrine. There is also a retreat center as well as accommodations for pilgrims.
Over the centuries a long list of saints and distinguished visitors have come here as pilgrims, including St. Francis of Assisi, St.Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Paola, St. Anthony of Padua, St.Vincenzo Ferreri, San Bernardino of Siena, St. Alphonsus, St. Gerard and, more recently, Pope John Paul II. In fact, when he was still Archbishop of Krakow, then-Cardinal Wotyla visited here when the church was consecrated.
The Sanctuary is open daily in the summer from 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In winter it opens one hour later and closes 30 minutes earlier. It is an active parish with daily Masses at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. in winter). There are Sunday Masses as well….check their website for details.
Many pilgrims choose to walk from town up to the shrine…..it is a fairly steep climb, almost 4,000 feet (1300 meters) above the town. Most people take 1 1/2 to 2 hours to make the climb.
Traveling to the Sanctuary of Mary Mother of God Crowned:
The nearest airport is in Bari, about 60 miles east of the Shrine.
There is good train service to Foggia, which is also the nearest station to Padre Pio’s Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo as well as Saint Michael’s Cave in Gargano). Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Via Don Luigi Orione, Borgo Incoronata, 71040 Foggia FG, Italy
GPS coordinates: 41° 22′ 53.2668” N, 15° 38′ 27.3588” E
Tel: (+39) 0881 810016
Click here for the official website of the Sanctuary of Mary Mother of God Crowned in Foggia
It is an uphill drive to the sanctuary, but clearly marked as you can see from the photo. You can pray before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary here at the Shrine of Mary Mother of the Poor.
The sanctuary is quite large….you are only seeing a portion of it in the photo above as Mass is being celebrated. A marble plaque on the wall commemorates the visit of John Paul II in 1987.