Madonna del Soccorso / Our Lady of Soccorso, Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily, Italy ( 1718)- 13 July, 21 August:
In Castellammare del Golfo , in the Province of Trapani, a miraculous event occurred on 13 July 1718, when the Town was in the midst of war between Philip V and Amedeo di Savoia, for the possession of Sicily. A Spanish ship, pursued by five English ships, arrived to take refuge under the castle, from where the enemy ships were repelled.
The people, frightened, cried out for a miraculous help to their Patron – all fled the City, and despite the blows of the English artillery, no-one was killed or injured. But all of a sudden, to everyone’s amazement, the white-dressed Madonna appeared from Mount delle Scale, followed by a group of Angels, who descended towards Cala Marina. This vision terrified the British who hastened in retreat and left the port.
The name of Madonna del Soccorso derives from this extraordinary event.
Every two years, in fact, on 13 July in the Town of the Gulf the “Historical Re-enactment” of the miraculous intervention of Maria Santissima del Soccorso, in the City of Castellammare.
Devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso is particularly felt in the Magolà hamlet, in Lamezia Terme but also, in the whole area. The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso is located on a green hill overlooking the City of Lamezia Terme and overlooking the plain of Sant’Eufemia, in the most panoramic point . The presence of this Church then gave its name to the whole area. According to a historical research by Don Pietro Bonacci ( 1915 – 2007 ), devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso is very ancient and was initially practiced in the Church of the Reformed Fathers of St Frances (currently the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore) in very remote times. This devotion was also in use in the Church of Santa Lucia , which until the eighteenth century, had the title of Parish of St Maria del Soccorso, then passed to the Church of Magolà. It is said that the Reformed Fathers decorated with great piety and love, a miraculous image of the Madonna painted by St Luke and brought from Jerusalem by a Franciscan Friar who landed in Sant’Eufemia, fell ill and died with the Reformed Fathers. This image was of great veneration for its continuous graces but no trace has been found, it has disappeared.
The current Church was built shortly after the construction of the votive Shrine. In fact, a document reports that it was completed in 1740. . At the beginning of the nineteenth century cholera broke out and a small hospital was built to treat the sick. In the twentieth century everything returned to normal and the celebrations in honour of the Madonna began, which were established on the third Sunday of July, preceded by the Novena. On Saturdays it was customary to celebrate The Rosary and other Marian devotions, in which one spent a whole day with the Madonna and sang traditional hymns. On the day of the festival, after several Masses, the procession with the Statue of the Madonna begins,and looks out from the hill to bless the City. There was also a great fair. Today the festival is held the same way.
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