Madonna dei Miracoli / Our Lady of the Miracles, Alcamo, Sicily (1547) – 21 June:
The cult of Our Lady of the Miracles in Alcamo dates to 21 June 1547, the day people remember the Madonna’s apparition to some women near a stream running north of Alcamo. According to tradition while washing their clothes in the stream, the women, with a blind and a deaf one among them, saw the apparition of a woman with a child and were hit by a gust of pebbles, during the apparition but without receiving any injury or pain; on the contrary, after being hit by the pebbles, they strangely felt a certain sense of wellbeing and recovered their health. After learning the news, the women’s husbands, thinking that it was a joke, went to investigate, thinking that someone was hidden among the bushes but they didn’t find anybody.
Then the local authorities inquired on the spot, cut down the near grove and found the ruins of a “cuba,” an old arc of a mill that nobody remembered any longer and insidem there was a fresco on a stone made by an anonymous painter of the 13th century representing Our Lady with the Child Jesus, which at first. the believers called “Madonna Fons Misericordiae” (that is Our Lady Source of Mercy).
After this discovery, all the people started praying before the rediscovered image and in the following days there were several miracles. Our Lady of Miracles became the Patron of Alcamo, in substitution of the Holy Crucified, who was the Patron Saint of Alcamo and other near small towns (among which Calatafimi and Salemi). The old Patron Saint’s memory however, remains: in fact, they call St Francesco of Paola “santu patri” (whose translation means “Patron Saint”) as the Church named after him was called the Holy Crucified Church.
The Madonna’s discovered image was first called “Our Lady Source of Mercy” but thanks to the high number of subsequent miracles, in 1583 the name was changed into “Our Lady of Miracles”.
Further to these events, Don Fernando Vega, Alcamo’s governor, ordered the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Miracles, which hosts the Madonna’s image. Inside the Church there is a white marble sarcophagus containing the mortal remains of the governor Don Fernando Vega, according to his will.
Every year in Alcamo there are the celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Miracles from 19 June until 21 of June. This is the most important religious festivity in Alcamo. The real celebrations are often anticipated by other events, so extending the feast to about two weeks, in this way the beginning of the celebrations changes every year, while the last day is always the 21 June.
The celebrations include:
The pealing of church bells” which opens the celebrations together with the burst of fireworks and the passing of the band through the town streets; in the past Alcamo’s band also joined the musical band of Partinico (a neighbouring small town).
The Holy Mass in honour of Our Lady of Miracles in the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (also called “Mother Church”), in which all confraternities and laity groups in Alcamo take part.
The procession to the Sanctuary of Madonna of Miracles (called “calata”), in which all civil and religious authorities of the town (together with the Mayor) take part; they are preceded by the band of the town. In old times people took also the animals that had recovered from an illness. Inside the Sanctuary they sing Vespers and then there is the Eucharistic Blessing/Benediction.
St Aloysius Gonzaga SJ (1568-1591) (Memorial) Jesuit Seminarian, Mystic, Marian devotee, born of a noble family as Luigi.
About St Aloysius:
St Agofredus of La-Croix
St Alban of Mainz (Died c 400) Martyr, Priest, Missionary
St Ralph of Bourges (Died 866) Archbishop of Bourges, Reformer.
St Raymond of Barbastro
St Rufinus of Syracuse
St Suibhne the Sage
St Ursicenus of Pavia
Martyrs of Taw – 3+ saints: Three Christians of different backgrounds who were martyred together – Moses, Paphnutius, Thomas. They were beheaded in Taw, Egypt, date unknown.