Santuario di Montenero

Sanctuary of Montenero in Livorno

A few kilometers south of Livorno, the panoramic village of Montenero located on a hill overlooking the sea and the port of the city, hosts the homonymous sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie and founded, according to popular tradition, in 1345.

It is said that a crippled shepherd found a miraculous image that asked him to be transported to the Montenero hill. Hearing the voice, the shepherd did as he was asked and when he reached the top of the hill he was healed. Around the small church of the origins, together with the devotion above all of the sailors of the area, a sanctuary grew up which took on its present form in 1744. Since then that image of the Madonna has never ceased to be a source of devotion and grace for all those. who turn there and the Sanctuary that was born there is a destination for pilgrimages and visits by a large number of people.

Nave of the Sanctuary of Montenero
Nave of the Sanctuary of Montenero

In the side chapels a Gallery collects an exceptional collection of ex-votos , most of which were made by navigators and sailors.

A large number of people wanted to leave an object, pictures, clothes, as a sign of the grace received which constituted a thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is interesting to observe how this collection of ex-votos, in addition to demonstrating the deep devotion of the faithful, is also an exhibition from which a glimpse of simple history of different periods can be deduced: the customs, the landscapes, the roads, the means of transport. They are images of ordinary people, fishermen, farmers, shepherds, housewives, children; some of these images are coarser, others are expressions of a strong popular art. You can also admire works by famous authors: ' The horse "by Giovanni Fattori ," The motorcyclist "by Renato Natali.

A curious fact is that the greatest number of graces received concerns storms at sea, followed by shipwrecks, falls overboard and collisions.

All of this has always aroused general interest in a real iconographic analysis in the last 200 years, but the fundamental reason for interest is the faith of the protagonists of the episodes.

The sanctuary can also be reached by a funicular that starts from Piazza delle Carrozze , so called because of the habit of visitors of the past to leave their carriages in this square.

Next to the church of the sanctuary there is a real Pantheon of Livorno. Inside there are the funerary monuments of the illustrious Livorno residents: Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi , Enrico Pollastrini , Carlo Bini , Carlo Meyer , Giovanni Fattori , Giovanni Marradi .

You enter the sanctuary from a frescoed atrium and from here you reach the baroque interior of the church where six altars celebrate those who helped finance its construction. The famous image of the Madonna di Montenero by the Pisan painter Jacopo Di Michele , which came out of the church only on the occasion of plagues or earthquakes to bless Livorno, is located on the high altar.

The cult of the Madonna di Montenero had made it a tradition to use the ships of Catholic nations to "salute" with cannon blasts to which the friars responded by lighting fires.

Sanctuary of Montenero