Santuario di Nostra Signora di Soviore, Cinque Terre
Church in Monterosso al Mare
The Santuario (Sanctuary) di Nostra Signora di Sovioreis a Catholic place of worship situated in the municipality of Monterosso al Mare, along the provincial road 38, in the province of La Spezia. Nestled within the Cinque Terre National Park, the religious building resides on the slopes of Mount Soviore (464 meters above sea level), surrounded by woods and terraced fields near the carriage road connecting Monterosso al Mare and Levanto. The church serves as the seat of the homonymous parish within the vicariate of the Riviera, part of the diocese of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato. The Madonna of Soviore has been revered as the patron saint since May 11, 1974, with the main festivities taking place on August 15th (the feast of the Assumption of Mary) and the Sunday following September 8th.
The sanctuary is a significant part of the “Sanctuaries of the Cinque Terre,” alongside the sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero in Riomaggiore, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Health in Volastra, and the sanctuaries of Our Lady of Grace and Our Lady of Reggio in Vernazza. The exact construction date remains uncertain, although the first mention of the building appears in a document dated 1244, indicating that its construction could be contemporary or even predate that year.
History of Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Soviore, Cinque Terre
An ancient popular legend recounts the sanctuary’s origin: during the Longobard incursions led by Rotari, the populations of the eastern coast sought refuge in the valley’s interior. To safeguard a sacred wooden statue of the Madonna from potential theft, it was buried. According to the legend, the image was rediscovered a hundred years later after a dove sought refuge in a tunnel, guiding the population to its location.
Over the following centuries, the cult surrounding the Madonna grew among the populace, as evidenced by a 14th-century plaque walled up in the presbytery. This led to the construction of the “pilgrim’s house” and the assignment of the care of the Monterosso hospital to the rector and massari of the sanctuary.
In the fifteenth century, two documents mentioned the sanctuary of Soviore. The first, dated 1484, certifies the church’s assignment to Friar Simone Fassio by the decision of Pope Sixtus IV. The second, from 1488, testifies to the granting of plenary indulgence by Pope Innocent VIII on the occasion of the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Since the mid-1980s, the sanctuary of Soviore has become an important site for a part of the Italian scouting community. The Soviore Scout Community was established here, and the Soviore Routes began, serving as spiritual gatherings that brought together participants from various scout associations. These meetings continue to this day, taking place during Easter at the sanctuary and throughout Italy during the Christmas period.
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