600th anniversary of finding of venerated Marian statue
July 12, 2013
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, the Archpriest Emeritus of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, as his special envoy to the recent closing celebration of the 600th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of the Madonna della Libera (Our Lady of the Free).
In 1412, a farmer in Cercemaggiore, now a town of 4,000, unearthed a clay pot in which the wooden statue was hidden, and a spring with healing powers gushed forth. In his letter appointing Cardinal Monterisi as his legate, Pope Francis noted that the finding of the statue was followed by “many marvels and many healings that confirmed and increased the faith of the inhabitants.” Today, the statue is venerated at a shrine in a Dominican monastery.
The yearlong sixth centenary celebrations began in July 2012 and concluded earlier this month. In his homily at the solemn closing Mass, Cardinal Monterisi noted that the statue’s hands depict the Blessed Virgin imploring graces for her children and protecting them from their enemies. Her hands, he continued, are marked with the cross, which makes man “strong and free, serene and joyous,” in contrast to the sadness that comes from “our egoism, our attachment to money, when we are bound to petty forms of hypocrisy and falsehood, even in religious matters.”
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