Oropa, Italy: Shrine of Our lady of Oropa
Here in Alps of Northern Italy, not far from Turin, is one of the oldest Marian shrines in the world, founded by Saint Eusebius around 371 AD. It is also one of the most beautiful.
According to tradition, the Saint brought a statue of the Blessed Mother from Palestine around that time to escape the Aryan persecution. He is said to have hidden the statue among the rocks on this site for safe keeping.
The grounds are an impressive, being on three levels. The ancient Basilica was built in 1599 but holds an even older shrine, the Eusebian Sacellum, which dates back to the 9th century. The upper Basilica can be seen for miles, as you can tell from the photograph.
Marconi invented the radio and sent his first radio message to the Vatican from Oropa, under Our Lady’s patronage.
The Special Nature Reserve of the Sacro Monte of Oropa was founded in 2005. There are many opportunities for hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.
The area was a favorite of two well-known hikers: Blessed Pier Giorgio (whose tomb is in Turin) as well as Saint John Paul II. In fact, Saint John Paul II paused to pray at a spot on the path dedicated to Blessed Pier Giorgio.
There are over 300 rooms in the retreat center, including some suites and junior suites, as well as nearby restaurants serving local delicacies. There are several gift shops as well.
Traveling to Oropa:
You can travel by train from Milan or Turin as far as Biella S. Paolo railway station (you will need to change trains at least once). From there it is about 10 miles by taxi.
Address: Via Santuario D’Oropa, 480, 13900 Oropa BI, Italy
GPS coordinates: 45° 37′ 30.8532” N, 7° 58′ 55.0560” E
Tel: (+39) 015 2555 1200 Fax: (+39) 015 2555 1219
Click here for the official website of the Sanctuary of Oropa. Their website gives an excellent history of the Sanctuary, although the translation is a bit rough in some places.
And for a great description of the hiking paths of Blessed Pier Giorgia and Saint John Paul II that you can follow we recommend this website.