History of the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace:
In the 17th century, a small chapel in Lavasina belonged to a family of wine merchants (the Danese family) here. They were owed some money from one of their customers who was insolvent and could not pay…so he sent them a canvas depicting a Virgin and Child, in payment of his debt.
When the Danese family unpacked the canvas, they found that in addition to the painting was the exact amount of money due to them, in cash.
Considering this as a miracle, they displayed the canvas in their Lavasina chapel for it to be honored. The painting represents the Virgin kneeling as she kisses the Child and covers him with her veil. In the background are her cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist as a child and St Joseph.
Then came another miracle: In 1675, a pious Franciscan Tertiary living in Bonifacio, known as Sister Marie, lived for many years suffering from a contraction of nerves that had left her all crippled and torn by terrible pains. She resolved to go to Genoa for treatment or, at least, to try to relieve her terrible suffering. Embarked on a sailboat off the coast of Cap Corse, a violent storm forced the ship to come and take shelter in Lavasina’s cove. Sister Marie was transported to the little oratory of the Danese, in front of the image of the Virgin. There she had the Salve Regina sing by children, and asked that some of the oil from the lamp, which was constantly burning in front of the painting, be applied to her paralyzed legs.
Immediately she felt relieved of her pain, her legs regained their strength and she stood up completely healed. Many witnessed this miracle and word spread, so soon crowds began to come on pilgrimage to the little chapel.
The Bishop decided to build a new sanctuary to replace the chapel. It was inaugurated on September 7th, 1677, and the next day, September 8th, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin was celebrated for the first time. Although the painting does not represent the Nativity, the annual pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Lavasina was fixed at that date.
And yet another miracle: In 1779, the entire region of Bastia was hit by a terrible drought whose effects were quickly catastrophic for the population. A great procession was organized from the city to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Graces to implore the intercession of the Madonna at the foot of the Miraculous image. An abundant rain began to fall, putting an end to the drought.
In 1859, the Franciscans were invited to become the guardians of the shrine, and a convent was built for them next to the church of Our Lady of Graces. In 1952, the Virgin of Lavasina was solemnly crowned.
Many miracles have been reported since that first one in 1675, and it has been nicknamed “The Lourdes of Corsica”. The walls of the shrine are covered with ex-votos left by the faithful in thanksgiving for the innumerable graces and miracles obtained through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
About the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lavasina today:
In 1977, on the occasion of the tercentenary of the Sanctuary, the Miraculous Painting, whose colors had over time considerably darkened, was meticulously restored before being relocated on the high altar on the evening of September 7th.
In May 2002 the 50th anniversary of the Coronation of Our Lady of the Graces was solemnly celebrated. For this occasion the image was taken from the Sanctuary of Lavasina for Bastia again and was brought to the Cathedral Sainte-Marie for the commemorative mass of the event under the presidency of Mgr Baldelli, Apostolic Nuncio in Paris and in the presence of Mgr André Lacrampe, Bishop of Ajaccio. Then the image was transferred to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes where it was venerated throughout the evening, then returned to the Sanctuary the next morning, carried on a floated chariot and accompanied in procession by many faithful.
The Shrine still attracts pilgrims throughout the year.
From August 30 to September 7 each year they have the Novena of Our Lady of Lavasina, with Masses at 8:00 am and 5:00 pm – Rosary at 4:30 pm. Then, the Marian feast in Lavasina takes place on the 8th of September.
Click here for the official website of Our Lady of Graces in Brando
Traveling to the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces:
The shrine can be reached by taking one of the many ferries from either Italy or France that go to the port of Bastia. From there are frequent buses for the 5-minute trip to the Shrine.
Address: 20222 Brando, France
Tel: +33 4 95 58 05 15
email: [email protected]
Click here for the official website of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces in Brando