The Vicoforte sanctuary, also known as the basilica sanctuary of the Nativity of Maria Santissima, is a monumental church, among the most important in Piedmont, located in Vicoforte.
Santuario di Vicoforte History
The complex has its origins in a medieval sanctuary, consisting of a modest pylon decorated with a fifteenth-century fresco depicting the Madonna and Child, erected by a kilnsman to propitiate the good cooking of the bricks. In 1592, during a hunting trip, a hunter named Giulio Sargiano accidentally hit the image of the Virgin who, according to tradition, bled. Reality, on the other hand, sees the repentant hunter hanging his arquebus on the pylon and starting a great fundraiser to repair the damage and thus expiate his sin. The arquebus is kept inside the Sanctuary, in the new rooms intended for the museum.
In a few years this place became a destination for increasingly frequent pilgrimages also attracting the attention of Duke Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy who, in 1596, commissioned the construction of a large sanctuary from the court architect Ascanio Vittozzi. In the intentions of the duke, the sanctuary should have welcomed many pilgrims and later become the mausoleum of the House of Savoy, a place destined for the family tombs, a function later assumed by the basilica of Superga on the Turin hill.
The architect died in 1615, when the large building had been erected up to the cornice, where the dome drum should have been inserted. The duke also died, fifteen years after the architect, construction stopped completely, leaving the sanctuary uncovered for a long time. A new interest of the faithful occurred in 1682, when the Virgin of the pylon was solemnly crowned, as a thank you for the end of the salt war. Since then the construction was resumed, without counting more on the support of the Savoy family (who at the time were paying all their attention to the construction of the basilica of Superga), thanks to the commitment of the architect and engineer from Reggio Emilia Francesco Gallo who, encouraged by Filippo Juvarra, ventured into the great enterprise starting from 1728. Above the mighty Mannerist sandstone base, the drum, with evident baroque lines, was quickly built, and the dome, which was finished in 1732.
The fresco decorations of the over six thousand square meters of surface were then completed between 1746 and 1748 by Mattia Bortoloni and Felice Biella.
On 15 December 2017, the body of Elena of Montenegro, the second queen of Italy and consort of King Vittorio Emanuele III, was transferred from Montpellier. Two days later, the body of Vittorio Emanuele III, coming from from the Latin Catholic Cathedral of Alexandria in Egypt.