Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia

The Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia near the Italian sea port of Genova commemorates the apparition of the Madonna that took place on "Monte Figogna" on 29th August 1490 to a local peasant "Benedetto Pareto".

The Sanctuary rises at 804 m above sea level, with a unique panoramic view (from Corsica to the Matterhorn).

Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI commenced his visit to the Italian city of Genova by first visiting the shrine at Monte Figogna.

Later he said:

"Many times Pope Benedict XV, your illustrious fellow citizen, went as a pilgrim to that mountain oasis, and in the Vatican Gardens he had a reproduction made of that dear image of the Madonna della Guardia.

And just as my venerable predecessor, John Paul II did, in his first apostolic pilgrimage to Genoa, I too wanted to begin my pastoral visit by offering homage to the heavenly Mother of God, who from the height of Mount Figogna watches over the city and all its inhabitants.

Tradition tells of how the Madonna, in her first appearance to Benedetto Pareto -- who was worried about how he would go about building a church in that place so far from the city -- said: “Trust in me! You will not lack the means. With my help everything will be easy. Only be firm in your will.”

“Trust in me!” Mary repeats this again to us today. An ancient prayer, very dear to popular tradition, has us address these words to her, that today we make our own: “Remember, O, most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided.”

Unfortunately when he visited the Sanctuary, the weather was unseasonably wet and the views would have been restricting.