On December 10th the town celebrates the Madonna of Loreto, patroness of Arpino, with a festival with its roots in the seventeenth century. Thanks to the grace of Our Lady of Loreto, in fact, the town and its inhabitants were spared from famine, epidemics, earthquakes and wars.
Our Lady’s miracles have taken place over the centuries and in 1656 Arpino was saved once again from a terrible epidemic of plague that brought down Rome, Naples and all of Southern Italy.
The most important miracle occurred April 17, 1799, when the French troops who were ravaging all the municipalities in the area headed right toward Arpino. The inhabitants invoked the protection of Our Lady of Loreto, putting her statue out of the north gate. At the sight of the statue, the French suddenly fled abandoning the assault.
According to tradition, an “army of nine thousand men dressed in white” with the Virgin, in the guise of a brunette woman who was feeding the flock, came down from heaven to protect the city. Since then, Our Lady of Loreto has become the patron of the city.
The statue of the Madonna is kept throughout the year in the Saint Benedictine nunnery of St. Andrew and on 10 December it is carried in procession from Sant Andrea to the Collegiate Church of St Michael Archangel, in the town square, where it remains for a few days and where there is a plaque recording the events of 1799.