The Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Grace is located about 9 km from the city of Mantua and about 30 km from Lake Garda, in the ancient and picturesque village of Grazie di Curtatone, along the state road for Cremona, on a hill overlooking the Mincio Valleys.
Central in the history and life of the Sanctuary is August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, to whose exaltation it is dedicated.
Santuario della Beata Vergine Maria delle Grazie History
The most remote origins of the Sanctuary date back approximately to the year 1000 when a capital was erected by popular piety, inside which a table of the Virgin and Child was placed.
In 1399 Francesco Gonzaga had an imposing basilica erected there as an ex-vow to Our Lady of Grace for the cessation of the plague that raged, claiming countless victims. The task was entrusted to the architect Bartolino da Novara, and it cost the remarkable sum of 30,000 gold shields.
The consecration of the temple took place on August 15, 1406, the feast of the Assumption, at the hands of the Cremona bishop Nicolò Tinti with a solemn rite in the presence of Francesco Gonzaga, the bishop of Mantua Antonio degli Uberti and Giovanni Zambotti, patriarch of Grado and maximum authority spiritual life of Venice.
At the end of the eighteenth century the decline began, with the suppression of the convent by the will of the Austrian emperor Joseph II, the expulsion of the Franciscans by the French, which also followed a period of abandonment and devastation also as a consequence of the battle of Curtatone and Montanara fought in 1848.
The activity of the Sanctuary resumed in 1855 thanks to the Bishop Giovanni Corti and the pilgrims returned to revive the celebrations.
In recent times significant works have been carried out including the recovery of the first sacristy and the demanding restoration of the deck with all the votive statues. Since 1973 the international competition of madonnari that takes place in the churchyard has been a call for pilgrims far beyond the diocese's border.