History of Madonna della Libera
[Photo - Pratola Peligna]
Around 1500, in the Pratolana valley near Pratola Peligna, a devastating outbreak of cholera caused terror, desperation and death. In this chaotic time, the devotion to the Madonna was more apparent than ever and a wonderful story of love and admiration took place towards our Blessed Mother. At that time, a humble man in desperation came across some ruins in an ancient village called Torre. On a wall of what once was the village’s church, now covered in debris, he saw an apparition with a soft and gentle smile. He drew closer and, as he frantically began to clean the wall, he fell to his knees and shouted “Madonna, free us.” He had found the Madonna – Our Madonna.
With an impassioned heart he ran to the nearby village of Pratola to tell others of his discovery but the Pratolani, not knowing who he was, were indifferent and afraid of catching some disease. Nevertheless, the man continued to shout “Madonna, free us.” That shout led the villagers to Torre in a pilgrimage of faith and hope that culminated in a visit to the old church where the apparition was first seen. After the first villager entered and shouted “Madonna, free us,” the others followed. To their amazement, they witnessed the beautiful apparition of the Blessed Mother in all its splendour. This returned hope and faith to the disease-ravaged people who were so desperate to witness a miracle. The Madonna’s image was then taken to Pratola Peligna where, with great love and devotion, a sanctuary was built, which still stands in the same place and dominates Pratola. The Pratolani still possess the same faith and devotion towards the Madonna with them wherever they go.
The Italian community of Brantford gathers each year at Our Lady of Assumption Church to cerebrate the Madonna, continuing a wonderful tradition. They pray and, with thankful hearts and devotion, invoke our Blessed Mother’s help to guide them in their daily lives. The Italian immigrants today, surrounded by the perils of modern life, still draw on their Christian faith and deep belief to appeal to the Mother of God with “Madonna, free us.”