Pact of Love
Sep 8 - Sep 23
September 8-23: In Viterbo, two weeks of celebrations are dedicated to a very particular tradition, that of the Pact of Love with the image of the Madonna della Quercia.
It starts on September 8th with a nocturnal pilgrimage of the parishes to the Sanctuary of the Quercia and ends on September 23 with a painting exhibition.
The story of this festival began back in 1417 when the master Battista Juzzante had a picture of the Virgin Mary painted on a tile holding Baby Jesus by Master Martello, called Monetto.
The tile had been hanging for about 50 years on an oak tree at the side of the road between Viterbo and Bagnaia. Then in July of 1467, a knight fleeing from the enemy saw her hanging on the oak and threw himself at the foot of the tree. He hugged the trunk of the oak with faith and despair, and the Madonna performed the miracle of rendering him invisible.
His enemies arrived but despite touching him they could not see him. The story of the miracle spread and people began to be devoted to Our Lady so, when the plague arrived in 1467, the Viterbo people went to ask for a new miracle from Our Lady of the Oak.
From one of the stories of the historian Niccolò della Tuccia, on 30 August 1467 about 30,000 people came near to the oak to ask for the miracle – from Montefiascone, Caprarola, Carbognano, Bassano, Soriano, Civitella, Bagnaia, Bomarzo, Vetralla, Lugnano, Canepina, Vitorchiano, Ronciglione, Tuscania and Viterbo.
The miracle took place and the plague spared these territories so that out of gratitude each year the people return to make the procession to the Madonna della Quercia and a sanctuary was built to house the famous tile.
The church was started by Paul II in 1467 and then in 1867 was declared a basilica by Pope Pius IX and today is a national monument.
The first procession called ‘Patto d’amore’ took place on September 20th and since then the month of September has been dedicated to these celebrations.