Nestled in the cliffs of Italy’s Monte Baldo mountain range is an impossibly situated holy site, the Santuario Madonna Della Corona (Sanctuary of the Lady of the Crown). Despite its blatant gravitational defiance, perched on the side of a rugged cliff, the chapel boasts centuries of history as a pilgrimage spot characterized by steep hikes, panoramic views, and meditative reflection. And it continues to attract those who pursue revelation and don’t fear heights!
Here’s what you need to know about this unbelievable religious structure.
The Legend of the Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona
If you’re wondering why the church would choose such a bizarre and inhospitable location for a monastery, you’re far from alone. But not all supernatural activity takes place on a flat surface at sea level. And no matter how inconvenient a site marked by something extraordinary may seem, there’s an innovative architect willing to give it a go. Of course, the sanctuary’s location also boasted otherworldly origins.
It all started in the 10th century when a handful of inhabitants of the Adige Valley spotted a sparkling light in the distance. Overcome with curiosity, they hiked towards the illuminated cliff on Corona Mountain, where the light clearly flickered. Arriving at the source of the light, they found a statue of the Madonna holding Jesus’ body after removal from the cross.
The villagers took such a shining to the statue that they decided to move it to the Adige Valley below for display and worship. But every day, they awakened to find the statue had somehow found its way back to the top of the cliffs.
A Thousand Years of History
A deep dive into ancient literature reveals the sanctuary has existed for more than 1,000 years, and numerous documents associate the location with Verona’s Abbey of St. Zeno. According to these documents, the Santuario Madonna Della Corona was once only accessible by a “dangerous path in the rocks.”
Back then, the sanctuary only appealed to the most stalwart of monks who retreated there to contemplate the mysteries of God and life silently. But now it has become a unique tourist attraction, especially among photographers in search of the perfect and most unique shots.
A 16th-century restoration project has ensured the chapel will continue to stand for many years to come despite its wildly precarious location. Even today, religious pilgrims continue to make the two-hour trip from nearby Brentano to the sanctuary. Along the way, they’ll enjoy unfathomable views and the chance to follow a trail of 14 bronze statues, symbolizing the Stations of the Cross.
By Engrid Barnett, contributor for Ripleys.com