Madonna Della Libera (Our Lady of Freedom)


 

The Madonna's statue in front of St Mary's -

Photograph by Studio Gianni

 

 

Santa Maria Di Moiano has become a centuries old enigma; the more research that is done, the less of her origins and story we know.

We will start with what are known facts. In 1514 Bishop Gian Luigi Deluige visited St Mary’s of Moiano, he found the church and Her statue in a state of abandonment and in ruins. A devastating earthquake around the year 1456 may have caused some of the destruction. He noted its condition and apparently did nothing. Later Bishop Giovanni Ghevara on March 20, 1525 conducted a census of the Moiano parish. He found that there would be a scarcity of donations to maintain expenses for St Mary’s even if the church and statue were restored. He then decided to combine St Mary’s with the parish of St Peter.

Many Moiano citizens and those of the surrounding area protested. Because of the many miracles attributed to Her, and in the name of their ancestors, they wanted the church and statue restored. Donations of money, materials and labor came in from many, both in Moiano and surrounding areas. After 1550 the church and statue were restored. During this restoration they found buried around the statue were 9th and 10th century Byzantine coins. On the coins were inscriptions of Constantine the 7th and The Virgin of Sign, a Greek icon that had been imported from the Orient. St Mary of Moiano was then restored to the likeness of The Virgin of Sign. The names of some of those who were instrumental in the restoration at that time are listed below.**

Pope Innocenzo XII first venerated St Mary of Moiano in 1698. Due to years of efforts by Parish priest Vincenzo Mango and some of the most influential citizens in Moiano, the church beatified Her in 1914**. The statue was restored again in 1991 in Florence by professor Graziadei Tripodi. On June 27, 1991, there was an article in the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano regarding Her and restoration of Her statue.

We can be sure that for two or three hundred years starting during the 9th or 10th centuries, many pilgrims visited her shrine in Moiano, and there were miracles and cures. Nevertheless, it was often said that an individual had a feeling of serenity about them after the visit. We assume it was similar to the pilgrims who have been and are visiting Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France for the past 150 years. It is my opinion that during the Black Death in Europe; when more than one-third of the populace died, the critical history of Our Lady of Liberty died with them. Nevertheless after almost two centuries of abandonment some in Moiano retained some verbal memories of Her. Their extraordinary devotion to Her and Her miracles has not waned over the centuries. That same devotion came with their children who migrated to America.

The church speculates that at around 1571 there was trouble with the Turks who had invaded Italy. The Turks would not let the populace practice Catholicism in the areas they had occupied. In Moiano victory over the Turks was attributed to the many individuals who prayed to Our Lady of Moiano. Either for this or other reasons She was thereafter called Santa Maria Della Libera (Our Lady of Liberty.)

Why in the 1500s was Her statue restored in the likeness of the Virgin of Sign? Could it be that no painting of her facial features had survived, making it convenient to use that likeness when Her statue was restored? We now can be sure if there was an apparition it was probably in the 9th or early 10th century, and this only because of the dated coins found during her restoration in 1550.

** Tomaso, Antonio, Sabitino, and Iacopo Yocolaro – Carlo Perna – Iacopo and Francisco De Auropallo – Vicenzo Manco – Vola Ravedera – Fonso Perna – (Magnifico) Carlo Antonio De Marco – Vicenzo Vavuso – Iiacopo De Laguardia – Loisi Capuano – Joanni Perna – Andrea Vapuano

Prosessione madonna libera 2004- Madonna's procession- Photograph by Studio Gianni

 

 

Recent Photograph in front of St Mary's - Photograph by Pasquale Iuliucc


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