Shrine of Our Lady of the Rock (Madonna del Sasso)
The Story of Our Lady of the Rock:
In what is surely one of the most picturesque settings in Europe, you will find the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso (Our Lady of the Rock). The shrine is on the border between Italy and Switzerland in an area where Italian is the official language.
A monk named Brother Bartolommeo had come here to set up a place of prayer devoted to the Blessed Mother. According to the tradition, Our Lady appeared to him on August 15, 1480 and confirmed his desire to turn this into a place of prayer. Brother Bartolommeo was living in a cave at the time and so he erected a small chapel here on the side of the mountain dedicated to Saint Mary Avvocata. Shortly thereafter he built two more chapels and dedicated those to Saint Mary of Mercy and Saint Mary of Nazareth.
After his death, other chapels were built, so that people could work their way to the top stopping at the various chapels, each one dedicated to an event of the life of Jesus and Mary.
It became a popular pilgrimage in the 18th Century, but began to fall into ruin in the later years. Fortunately the shrine has been restored and is once again a place of pilgrimage for thousands who visit each year.
In addition to weekday Masses, Sunday Masses are at 7:15 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. (in German) and 5:00 p.m.
Traveling to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rock (Madonna del Sasso) in Orselina:
From either Locarno or Muralto you reach the top on foot in about 30 minutes. The paths are clearly marked. You can also reach it by going down from Orselina, but we recommend the former to enjoy the pilgrimage experience. There is also a funicular near the railway station in Locarno (Madonna del Sasso) for those who cannot (or choose not to) make the climb on foot.
Address: Via Santuario 2, 6644 Orselina, Switzerland
GPS coordinates: 46° 10′ 30.7164” N, 8° 47′ 38.2920” E
Tel: +41 91 743 62 65
Click here for the official website of Madonna del Sasso in Locarno.
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Photo credit Mikołaj Kirschke