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Madonna della Vetrana (Castellana Grotte, Bari, Puglia, Italy)

Commemorated on January 11
Madonna della Vetrana (Castellana Grotte, Bari, Puglia, Italy)
In Castellana from immemorial time, there was a small chapel dedicated to the Mother of God in a fresco painted rid the region of the plague in the seventeenth century.
Countless are the miracles of the Virgin Vetrana obtained from her Divine Son through the ages, like when freed from the plague Castellana. Called "the Vetrana" Since then, the shrine has become a destination for the faithful and pilgrims who continually come to venerate the sacred image.


Castellana is a small town located on the side of a karst basin in the south-east of Murge, 40 km from Bari and 300 meters from sea level. Its origin before the year 1000.
It was called Vico Kastella and had risen as a people formed by settlers from the Benedictine Abbey of Conversano. The old Vico, located within a mile of the city, which is vacant in late 1100, then was re-founded and rebuilt by Constantine and Nicholas, two settlers of Salento, in 1172.
Castellana, began to be known around the world between the January 23, 1938, when Prof. Franco Anelli caver discovered a karst cave system. By this fascinating underground world since 1950, Castellana has changed its name to Castellana Grotte.

The church, which stands on a hill overlooking the city, Castellana is preserved, and is "the object of great devotion, a nice fresh stone slab of the Virgin Mary.
The icon of Mary, the end of three hundred, called Virgen de la Vetrana (veteran, old). Although a different view of historian SM Fray Magdalena Casimiro says Vetrana is derived from the dialect word used to describe the measles.
In late 1690 the church was almost ruined when a serious incident came to disturb the Castellana and the surrounding area. A serious pest spreads, carrying death and mourning. Casimiro wrote in 1726. "This evil that made a great slaughter among the people, once attacked, all six children of Hadrian (Count of Conversano) and his wife Isabel Caracciolo. He who loved wife and children, seeing this danger, resorted to the intercession of the Virgin ... All his family was spared from evil. "
Continued Casimiro "in 1690 the disease attacked the city of Monopoli and Conversano, Polignano spread, Mola, Fagiano, and even entered Castellana. Two good priests recourse to the intercession of Saint Mary of the Vetrana, and replicating their fervent prayers to the Blessed Virgin, the January 11, 1691 one of them heard an inner voice that ordered the plague in the name of the Virgin from that land, and stop the scourge. "Lady also expressed the desire to expand the church.
Also spread the news that if anyone attacked by evil, was anointed with the oil of the lamp burning before her image would be freed from evil. All residents of the region were freed from evil.
"So - continues Casimiro - Castellana people in recognition of the benefits received by the Virgin, and to execute what he had set the priest, agreed to rebuild and expand the church of S. Maria de la Vetrana ". The work lasted only a year and took part the citizens of the Castellana.
The small bell is dated 1774. On the front is written in Latin: "IN PETRA exaltavit ME". Even the door of the monastery, inside the the data in 1774.
The dome of the church is covered with tiles of Capodimonte in Naples. In fact, the brothers Alcantarini (now known simply as "brothers") had their Superior in Naples, and via its reformer San Pedro de Alcantara, Spanish, were closely linked to the Kingdom of Naples, where their monasteries were built in Foggia , Capurso, Taranto, Castellana. In the sacristy there is a wall panel dated 1754, with Neapolitan majolica. 


Several years later he felt the need to "instruct the beautiful church religious. The Countess Dorothy Acquaviva d'Aragona, Dukes of Atri, wife of Giulio Antonio III, to thank the Virgin for saving the child Giulio Antonio IV, founded a convent attached to the church.
In 1866, the act of suppression of religious orders in Italy by the government made to evacuate all convents including Castellana. They were saved by a miracle, most of the books of the first historic core Fray Casimiro.
During the period of the closure of the convent, the Franciscan presence is guaranteed by the reactivation of the Third Franciscan Order (SFO today)
around 1870. This ecclesial reality has kept alive the spirituality of the Franciscan devotion to Our Lady of the Vetrana, despite the cruel law of the secular state that has been physically removed the presence of the brothers in the Castellana.
Along with the Secular Franciscan Order Franciscan Youth is grounded and the group Araldini as living presence in the religious life of the Castellana, which gravitate all events and liturgies of the sanctuary, and also support the parish of the city.
During the First World War were "housed" in the convent Hungarian prisoners of war. These, to thank people for their stay in the Castellana, to be treated not as prisoners, but as brothers, donated a statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Franciscan Third Order. The statue, commissioned from local artisans is still revered in the church.
On March 21, 1931, the church and the convent was transferred to the monks in perpetual lease. His radical renewal has become more vital space around the building and the church more functional. Renovations have made possible the study group hospitality, conferences, weeks of exercises, retreats.

One of the oldest traditions and has endured for more than three centuries is the Feast of Fanove. During the region overnight heat lights and light a bonfire. Tens of wood piles, well arranged, cone-shaped, some small and other giant blazing in the night of January 11 to the morning of 12. A mixture of devotion and folklore, reminiscent of the miraculous event occurred in 1691, when Castellana escaped the plague.
Indeed, until the last century, was primarily a religious holiday. The fire was primarily a source of light and heat, when there was no electricity and less heat. The fires were lit on events of special importance. People want Fanove loving devotion to give warmth to the country to honor the protective image of Our Lady of Vetrana.
The fire of Fanove not "pagan symbol, and not the memory of burnt furniture after the plague, but a symbol of joy and celebration.
At one time, for Fanove, vines were used, since they are produced in large quantities. In January the vines pruning takes place, old and dusty branches of the previous year are for fires that remain on all night in every corner of the Castellana and agriculture.
The wood of olive or almond is jealously guarded, and no one was using it in large quantities in Fanove, as used in our time. Today Fanove the shelter constructed of a large olive tree, which is sometimes used to build your base. 

For the April holidays, lime disinfect every corner of the house, which does not allow the party of January, cold, moist air. At the time of the plague, in fact, spent lime limestone altars, and even in ditches around the city. This tradition has faded.
Fortunately no light fades and the joy of the fire, even after the years of the dark forces of the war, despite the advent of the electric light, the fire still burning. In every way, groups of devotees who star in the Fanove spontaneously echoing with songs and accompanying guitars and accordions, with wine starts running around each fire to relieve heartburn caused by salted fish traditionally has been consumed with fire.
But there is a downside to this tradition modern. Where to build Fanove if roads are paved or asphalt?. Until the last century there were none of these problems: most of the roads were "soft". To remedy this situation with the appropriate standards, at the point where they want to build the bonfire is a layer of gravel to prevent damage to the road coverage.
The wood became less valuable and other fuels furnaces, became the Fanove larger. Olives are added that are started for various reasons, the sudden plague of large cherry trees, and the biggest prize money awarded by the associations for holidays and tourism generate larger campfires.
In the mid-nineties became extinct prizes ... and it was not like in the time of "good times", the wood becomes more valuable and hard to find, so in the latest editions was restored a judicious balance.
The Fanove are prepared with great spontaneity, numerous small fires of popular devotion in honor of Our Lady of Vetrana. They are scattered throughout the city, even in the suburbs, and between one song and another glorify Vetrana Lady of mercy, is especially beautiful although not huge fires. 


Santuario Madonna della Vetrana

Santuario Madonna della Vetrana (CASTELLANA GROTTE (BA), Italy)

The small bell tower is dated 1774. In its front part is written in Latin: "PETRA exaltavit IN ME". Even the monastery gate, inside the the data in 1774. The dome of the...

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