MOTHER OF GOD OF SAN LUCA
The Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (or Saint Luke) rises on Guardia Hill, approximately 289 meters above the sea level of the Po Plain of Bologna ...
... an ancient legend, has given rise to the August 15 tradition of the Madonna’s annual trip to and from San Luca. The legend has it that a painting of the Virgin Mary was carried up the long hill to the top of the city by a Greek pilgrim named Theocolus. Theocolus had been given the painting near Byzantium and noted the name of the painter to be that of the evangelist, Luke. The pilgrim also found a note stating whoever found the painting should take it to the top of Guardia Hill. The pilgrim climbed the mountain until he found a church. Feeling his mission complete, he gave the painting to the parrish priest. Except for an occasional trip down the hill to Bologna, the painting remained there until 1433, when a torrential rainy season started to ruin the harvests. A procession was organized with the painting carried throughout the city with the hope a miracle would occur. The miracle did, the rain stopped. The legend states that as the painting of the Madonna made its way through the streets, the trees bowed forward to protect the painting from the rain and this sight led to the idea of building the long portico down the side of the hill running from the church and linking up with the existing porticoes of Bologna below.
Each year on August 15, during the religious celebration of the Feast of the Assumption, an effigy of the Madonna is carried from the church of San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore, down Via Saragozza and up the hill to San Luca, remarkably so, it is usually raining. During the walk through the porticoes, the procession stops at each Madonna painting and prays. The walk can last as long as three hours. One week later the process is repeated as the Madonna comes back down the hill and is then carried to the various churches throughout Bologna. Thousands of devoted followers line the streets, cheering and praying for their own miracles, and attached lire (the monetary unit in Italy) and laying flowers at the Madonna’s feet she passes by.
Source : History of San Luca Sanctuary : Bologna, Italy
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