Sanctuary of Oropa
The Sanctuary of Oropa (Italian: santuario di Oropa), is a group of Roman Catholic buildings and structures in the municipality of Biella, Italy. It is located at a height of 1,159 metres in a small valley of the Alpi Biellesi.
|Sanctuary of Oropa|
|Santuario della beata Vergine di Oropa|
View of the Ancient Basilica
|Authorising papal bull||9th century|
|Dedication||Black Virgin of Oropa|
|Architectural type||Mainly baroque|
|Diocese||Diocese of Biella|
According to legend, a black wooden statue of the Virgin Mary carved by Saint Luke was found in Jerusalem by Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, carried to Oropa in the 4th century AD and placed into a small niche in a big boulder. In the Middle Ages, a church was built around the niche housing the statue, and was replaced in the early 17th century with what is known today as the Ancient Basilica. During the following two centuries, several other buildings were added to the complex, including the royal apartments of the House of Savoy, a big library and the Royal Gate, a masterpiece designed by the architect Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century.
The last addition to the sanctuary was the Upper Basilica, a monumental church built between 1885 and 1960 due the large number of pilgrims visiting Oropa. It can hold 3000 people and its dome is 80 metres high.
In 1617, the complex of the Sacro Monte di Oropa (literally Sacred Mount of Oropa) was built not far from the sanctuary. It is a devotional path now composed of twelve chapels (plus another seven nearby) containing groups of statues representing scenes from the story of the Virgin Mary's life.
A new graveyard was built near the Sacro Monte in the 19th century, for noble families of the Biellese territory to build their family tombs. Some graves have freemason symbols, such as Quintino Sella's.
Devotion and popular beliefsEdit
The statue of the black Madonna has always been venerated; several miracles and protections are attributed to the Virgin of Oropa. According to the popular tradition, the town of Biella made a vow during the 17th century plague and its inhabitants were spared by the infection. Following this grace, the town does a pilgrimage every year to the sanctuary in order to thank the Virgin Mary.
During the centuries, people made ex-voto (for grace) pictures to thank the Virgin Mary. All of these pictures are still preserved in the sanctuary in the 'ex voto gallery'. The oldest picture dates back to 1522 and was made by painter Bernardino Lanino.
The popular belief says that the wooden statue has some peculiar characteristics:
The evocative and ancient pilgrimage from Fontainemore to Oropa takes place every five years.
The Sanctuary has been the finish line of a stage of the Giro d'Italia six times.
|Year||Stage||Date||Track||km||Winner||Leader general classification|
|1963||11ª||29 May||Asti > Santuario di Oropa||130||Vito Taccone||Diego Ronchini|
|1993||20ª||11 June||Torino > Santuario di Oropa||162||Massimo Ghirotto||Miguel Indurain|
|1999||15ª||30 May||Racconigi > Santuario di Oropa||160||Marco Pantani||Marco Pantani|
|2007||13ª||25 May||Biella > Santuario di Oropa (cron. individuale)||12,6||Marzio Bruseghin||Danilo Di Luca|
|2014||14ª||24 May||Agliè > Oropa||184||Enrico Battaglin||Rigoberto Urán|
|2017||14ª||20 May||Castellania > Oropa||131||Tom Dumoulin||Tom Dumoulin|
- Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni, specialmente intorno ai principali santi, beati ..., Gaetano Moroni, Tipografia Emiliana, 1840; books.google.it (accessed in February 2014)
- CTR (Carta Tecnica Regionale) 1:10.000, Regione Piemonte, Settore Cartografico and Settore Sistema Informativo Territoriale, 2007 raster version
- The sanctuary of Oropa, province of Biella tourist office; web page on www.atl.biella.it (accessed in February 2014)
- History of the sanctuary, official web-site www.santuariodioropa.it (accessed in February 2014)
- Santuario diOropa (BI), on www.camperontheroad.it (accessed in February 2014)
- Trompetto, Massimo (1993). Storia del Santuario di Oropa. Biella. pp. 20–25.
- "Santuario di Oropa (IV secolo) - Patrimonio dell'Umanità (UNESCO)". reginamundi.info. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
- Roberto Allegri. "Il mistero della "Madonna bruna"". tonyassant.com. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
- Riserva Naturale Speciale del Sacro Monte di Oropa, description on www.parks.it (accessed in February 2014)
Media related to Sacro Monte (Oropa) at Wikimedia Commons