Vico nel Lazio has a special relationship with the Madonna with 5 precious statues protected in churches, 6 churches dedicated to the mother of Jesus, 4 confraternities and 5 festivals. But how does all this commitment come about?
The worship of Our Lady begins with Christianity itself and, perhaps, represents a bridge between the pagan cults and the nascent Christian church. In the Madonna, which comes from the Latin ‘mea domina’ (my lady), she revives the concept of the female source as a creator and a giver of life. It is no coincidence that the word ‘maria’ in ancient Hebrew means ‘hole’ from where everything originates.
In the Egyptian and Roman period Isis was one of the most beloved goddesses and had many followers, and was considered the “Holy Mother” of the ancient world. In the cult of Isis it is said “that all sees and all can, star of the sea, crown of life, giver of laws and redeemer”. Isis was a goddess of the moon, beauty, magic, and mystery, and she was like a young woman, wreathed by the blue crescent of the rising moon, with her little son Horus in her arms.
Over the centuries following the birth and dissemination of Christianity many statues of Isis were transformed into representations of Our Lady.
The term “mother of God” was then established in 431 by the Council of Ephesus where it authorized the transformation of all previous pagan temples and cults into Christian centres.
In the Middle Ages, Marian worship developed further and Maria is always present in the prayers of the monks. They began to talk about Maria as “Queen”, “Mother of Mercy” and “Mother of Miracles in favour of sinners”.
It is precisely from these definitions that the different Marian crowns arise and the Rosary is derived.
In Vico nel Lazio, the adoration of Our Lady appears in all its power in the names of Churches, Confraternities and Festivals. Each celebration is generally associated with at least one statue or an image of Our Lady.
The oldest statue is the Sorrowful Lady a wooden statue dating back to the Benedictine period. The precious medieval statue is preserved in the church of San Martino and on the wood are still visible traces of the colour that covered it.
The story of this statue is particular because it has suffered two thefts but has always been found. Now it is ‘behind bars’ protected in a display case but available to those who want to dedicate a prayer.
According to a tradition, this is also called the ‘Madonna of the Seven Pains’ in opposition to that of the ‘7 veils’ which is also called ‘the Madonna of the 7 joys’.
Madonna of the Seven Blessings or Madonna of Seven Joys as opposed to the Sorrowful Madonna. The seven veils correspond to the seven phases of the life of Jesus’ mother.
The name derives directly from the fact that this was a statue dressed or covered with real clothes that were changed depending on the time of year and special occasions. The garments were donated by the wealthy families who competed in their preparation. Some of these dresses were embellished with embroidery, gold threads and ornamental stones.
The original wax statue was replaced in 1942 by a plaster, which today also appears to be somewhat disproportionate to garments. The garments have been restored and are protected in a special case.
The name of the Madonna of the seven veils may appear to be strange with reference to another cult of the goddess Isis and with the ‘7 veil dance’, also of pagan origin, which originates from a sacred dance of the priestesses in honour of Isis. Every fallen veil represented the elimination of a negativity and of an obstacle that makes our evolution difficult.
Santa Maria church also houses the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary.
For those who wish to celebrate Our Lady in Vico nel Lazio, Madonna’s celebrations are:
The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is in October, Madonna of Sorrows is in the last Sunday of August, Madonna of Concordia is in the second Saturday of September, Madonna del Campo is on the 1st of May and then the celebration of Our Lady of Grace.
Each festival is organized respectively by the Brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Concordia and Our Lady of the Field.
One last curiosity is that the blue of the jersey of the Italian national team is associated with the worship of the Madonna and refers precisely to the Marian devotion by the Piedmontese kings. Azzurro ‘Savoia’ was the official colour of the monarchy used during the greatest events and is in fact derived from the colour of the Madonna’s mantle.