Santuario Madonna delle Grazie al Sasso
The Mother of Grace is the perfect name for this place
What a treasure I found!
It’s not far at all from Florence and the road to arrive there is a lovely, winding way through lush greenery beyond the hill town of Fiesole. Arriving there is easy and the last bit of road is paved but rough in some spots, like most of the last leg of road to get to these hidden gems.
What I had not realised before visiting Madonna del Sasso was that in the late 1400’s the Virgin Mary appeared here several times beginning on the 2nd of June 1484 to two humble sisters, the daughters of a Sheppard, who had come there to pray for the healing of their father. The healing was granted to the father and while she appeared the Madonna asked the girls to “let the members of the clergy in Florence know that their Holy Mother invites them to read the Gospel”. I felt something special here as I arrived.
As you approach the feeling gets stronger and you can feel a sense of total calm. I was greeted with warmth by a woman who was tending to the flowers and the soft green lawn was welcome site. Like a giant green carpet framing a courtyard, with an open view to nature and the surrounding hills.
When I entered the church here I had such a lovely experience. I approached gently to match the subtle energy of the place. I felt the need to be very respectful and quiet, I made a few photographs and then as I approached the altar, I felt the need to drop to my knees and begin to pray. I’m not sure if I was there for a minute or for twenty minutes but I opened my eyes as candles were being lit and the Holy bible was being turned to a specific page, then a priest sat on the pew next to where I was kneeling and he began recite the Rosary, I naturally to joined, feeling like I was one of the few who there to participate.
After the Rosary I stood and looked back to see an almost full church! So many people had arrived during the time of the Rosary but I was so immersed in the presence of the experience that I did not feel the people entering.
It was not until then that I saw it, inside the altar a large stone was set (the sasso in Italian) which was the exact stone on which Our Holy Mother had set her feet on and appeared to the children six hundred or so years ago. This helped me understand what brought me to my knees, the presence of Our Holy Mother, Her presence was alive and strong right there before the altar.
The road home was so pleasant and the experience of the place is still with me. I feel so blessed and so honored to be able to share this journey with you and I encourage you to experience this place for yourself.
Here is a video of the ride from Fiesole to Madonna the Sanctuary: