The Ceremony of the Madonna Bianca in Portovenere

22 八月 2015


On August 17th of each year in Portovenere there is the religious celebration dedicated to the Madonna Bianca.
During the day many liturgical ceremonies are held at the Church of San Lorenzo, where the parchment depicting the Madonna is guarded. Then at dusk the village is flooded with lights and devotional songs, while the ark in which is carried the miraculous image of the Madonna is passing through the narrow streets of the village, stopping in the square at the foot of the Church of San Pietro lit with Roman torches for the occasion. The candles scattered throughout the stack till the church of San Pietro are representing a splendid and unique entertainment.

The religious cult of the Madonna Bianca is tied to the miracle occurred in the evening of 16th August 1399 in the home of a man so-called Luciardo. While he was praying in front of an icon of Mary he noticed the blackened image resuming color; the hands of the Virgin came in prayer and, in the hands of the Son, appeared a scroll with a message inviting to prayer and conversion.

On this regard it is shown a document drawn up by the notary Giovanni di Michele from Vernazza countersigned by 60 eyewitnesses.
It is said that the sacred painting has arrived by sea around the year 1200 guarded in the trunk of a cedar of Lebanon. Nowadays the painting is still exposed in the left aisle of the church of San Lorenzo. This "means of transport" for relics, sacred objects and iconographies, was quite usual at that time, in fact ships returning from the Holy Land had on board trunks dug, in which were guarded similar objects, which were sealed and thrown overboard in case of damage to the ship or the presence of pirates.