18th March : Our Lady Of Mercy Of Savona

Our Lady Of Mercy Of Savona

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Year : 1536

For over 400 years penitential pilgrimages have been held annually during Passiontide through the streets of Italy’s beautiful seaport, Savona.  These wend their way up the valley of San Bernardo to the shrine of the Mother of Mercy.  Though the spaciousness and magnificence of the great basilica and its eight superb side-chapels, enriched by numerous papal indulgences, would captivate the eye, the pilgrims linger not until they have reached the crypt beneath the chancel of Mary’s Church, bearing the inscription, “Worship in this place where once her feet stood.”

Here in an alcove beneath the altar, upon which the actual rock of the apparition stands, is a marble figure of the Mother of Mercy as she appeared to Antonio Botta on March 18, 1536.  Pipelines divert the water of the stream, some of which now flows into a marble basin beside the altar rail.

“Do not be afraid”, said the Lady, “Antonio, it is I, Mary.”  Antonio remained on his knees spellbound as the lady continued, “Tell your confessor that he must bid the people to fast on the next three Saturdays in honor of the Mother of God.  You must go to confession and receive the Sacraments.  Return here on the fourth Saturday, for I have more to say to you.”

Antonio hastened to give the message to the priest.  The news spread quickly and many priests and people heeded Our Lady’s call to prayer and penance.

On the fourth Saturday, Antonio returned to the brook.  Promptly the Mother of Mercy appeared with hands extended as if in welcome.  She looked at him a moment and then spoke:  “Go to Savona and renew my instructions with greater insistence, calling all to leave their sins and vices.  Bid all to make three processions of penance, because my Son is greatly stirred in anger towards the world because of its iniquities.”  The better to persuade the people, Antonio asked for a sign; but Mary said, “Go, I will give them an inward sign so that when they hear these things they will believe them without other signs.  Many will be inspired to do as I ask.”  Raising both hands as if in blessing, the Lady added three times:  “Mercy, and not justice, my Son.”  Then she vanished, leaving a sweet fragrance which permeated the place for some time.

By order of Napoleon, Pope Pius VII was imprisoned July 6th, 1809 and led captive to Savona where he was kept till 1812.  During those hard years the Pope found solace in the Mother of Mercy, making a solemn vow that if he were released, he would, with his own hands, crown her image there.  Mother of Mercy heard his prayers and Pius VII kept his promise on May 10, 1815,

When he went in procession with cardinals, bishops, Italy’s royalty and a multitude of people, to the shrine, celebrated the Mass himself, blessed the crown and placed it on Mary’s brow.

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