Madonna dell’Alno / Our Lady of the White Poplar, Canzano, Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy (1480): 18 May
The Church, today a Parish Church, represents the centre of the Sanzanese devotion and was built and dedicated to the Madonna of the Alno in the year 1592 by the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary as reported in the epigraph on the portal architrave : “Societas Rosarii erigendum curavit AD 1592.”
The Virgin Mary appeared on 18 May 1480 on the top of a tree , to the peasant Giovanni Floro, (also referred to as Floro di Giovanni, who was plowing the land in a field located just outside the town. He noticed that his oxen tended to kneel and, looking around, he saw the Madonna on the tree. The Virgin turned to him and asked him to build a Church dedicated to her in the locality of Piano del Castellano in Canzano. [ The farmer immediately returned to the village and reported what had happened to him but, he was not believed and he was mocked and insulted by his fellow villagers.
The next day, the Madonna appeared again and renewed the same request to Floro who, with sadness, told her that the people of Sesi had not believed her words. The Virgin, silent, disappeared but on 20 May, after 6 pm, she manifested herself again and asked Giovanni to return to the village, to explain what was happening to him and, to prove what she said ,by personally driving a horse, notoriously indomitable, owned by the family of Falamesca de Montibus. The Madonna told him to be guided by the animal which would trace and define by its path, the site on which to erect the Church. [The owner of the horse agreed to entrust it to Giovanni who, to the amazement of all present, managed to ride it leading it up to the Piano del Castellano. Here, the animal “without restraint and without guidance, circled a space three times, and finally knelt down and bent its head to the ground.” The bystanders, who until then had observed in silence, expressed their astonishment with a great roar and gave consent and life to the building of the new Church.
Of the original Renaissance construction , only the stone portal remains, showing mirrors and rosettes. The façade and the stucco decorations of the Sanctuary are attributable to the reconstruction work of 1750 , while the brick bell tower dates from 1810 .
The Church holds within it a ‘ holy water font of the XVII Century placed on a pedestal carved with motifs of acanthus leaves, a bust reliquary wood of the eighteenth century depicting holy meek, sister of St Blaise Patron of Canzano, and paintings, dated between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries . Among these of particular value there is the Altarpiece of the Madonna del Rosario, placed behind the Altar, executed by Pasquale Rico of Montereale , portrayed with the Saints Domenic and Nicolas di Bari attributable to the workshop of Francesco Solimena . There is also the canvas depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds painted by the workshop of Guido Reni .
Veneration continues today with many pilgrims visiting all year but on 18 May each year, pilgrims devoutly process carrying the beautiful Statue and praying for all the special needs of the area, the Church and the world.
St Pope John I (c 470 – 526) – 53rd Pope from 13 August 523 to his death in 526. (Optional Memorial)
Blessed Burchard of Beinwil (Died c 1192) Priest
St Dioscorus of Kynopolis
St Elgiva of Shaftesbury
St Eric of Sweden (c1120-1160)
St Felix of Cantalice OFM Cap (1515-1587) Capuchin Friar – (the first Capuchin to be Canonised), Confessor, Apostle of Charity, Preacher, Teacher, Writer.
About St Felix:
St Felix of Spoleto
St Feredarius of Iona
Bl Jan Oprzadek
St Ortasio of Alexandria
St Potamon of Heraclea
St Serapione of Alexandria
Bl Stanislaw Kubski
St Venantius of Camerino (Died c 250) Martyr – St Venantius was a 15-year-old who was tortured and martyred by decapitation at Camerino during the persecutions of Decius.
His Life and Death:
Blessed William of Toulouse OSA (c 1297-1369) Priest of the Order of St Augustine
Martyrs of Ancyra – 8 saints: Seven nuns martyred in the persecutions of Diocletian and the innkeeper who was executed for giving them a Christian burial: Alexandria, Claudia, Euphrasia, Julitta, Matrona, Phaina, Thecusa and Theodatus. c.304 in Ancyra, Galatia (in modern Turkey)