The Sanctuary is located in the Abruzzo National Park and was erected in the eleventh century by Benedictine monks at 1030 meters above sea level, probably on the remains of a former temple.
Over the centuries, this little church enjoyed special papal privileges: those who worked there were entitled to indulgance, to the forgiveness of sins
In addition to the façade, the rest of the church is modern and has the peculiarity of having the front wall, the altar, totally glazed with a striking view over the woods.
Inside there is the stature of the Black Madonna of Valle di Canneto.
It is a pilgrimage destination of centuries long tradition.
The Canneto Valley
The Canneto Valley since ancient times was occupied both for the iron extraction and for the worship of the goddess Mephite, whose temple probably stood near the copious springs of Melfa. It is witnessed in a votive column capital of the IV – III century BC.
Pagan worship was replaced in the Middle Ages by that to the Madonna, which is celebrated with great festivities during the festival of the “four regions” involving pilgrims from the four regions: Abruzzo, Lazio, Campania and Molise.
According to legend, the church was built after the appearance of Our Lady to the humble shepherdess Silvana. The lady dressed in white told her to go to town and to tell to build a temple devoted to her in the valley. When the shepherdess said she had to water the animals and she was afraid of their health, the lady touched a rock and it gave water.
The shepherd went to the village and when she returned with some villagers they were surprised to find a lake formed by the waters of this new spring, from which the river Melfa originates.
The locals also found a statue of the Madonna with the Child on the throne, now kept in the church, and decided to take it to the village to put her in one of the churches.
As they moved away from the point of finding, the statue became increasingly heavy and it fell and could no longer be moved. In a rock along the trail is still visible the imprint of the head of the statue left on a stone.
The statue was then brought back to the valley and the construction of the temple began, which since then is the destination of incredible pilgrimages every year.
It is said that the Madonna cast a ring at the point where the River Melfa flows, attested by the many specks of gold that were found in the waters until the middle of the last century when the Aurunci aqueduct was then built. The pieces of gold were called the “Madonna’s stellosca”.