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Madonna di Porto Salvo, Lampedusa, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Commemorated on September 22
Madonna di Porto Salvo, Lampedusa, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy
The island of Lampedusa lies far south of Sicily, closer to Tunisia than to Italy. Since the time of the Crusades, it has been home to a rural shrine frequented by mariners both Christian and Muslim, who kept an oil lamp burning constantly before the crude stone statue of the Madonna and Child in the 1500s and 1600s. But the island was not inhabited until September 22, 1843, when two steamships of Italian colonists arrived under Gov. Bernardo Maria Sanvisente. In Madonna Valley, they found the chapel dilapidated and the mutilated statue of the Virgin on the ground. Sanvisente ordered the chapel and statue restored, and a mass sung every year on September 22 in honor of the Madonna of Porto Salvo and the settlement of the island. During World War II, bombs destroyed the church, but the Madonna was unhurt and no one killed. In 1967, the Virgin and Child were crowned, but in 1979 the precious crowns were stolen. The faithful soon raised money for new ones, and the Madonna of Porto Salvo was recrowned September 21, 1980. She is the patron of fishermen, and her celebration now lasts two weeks. On the first Sunday of September, the statue processes from its shrine to the main church in town, where it is honored with special services until the big day of the 22nd, when it processes solemnly through the city streets. Of course, the festa is the occasion for general entertainment, games, and food as well. On the 23rd, a final procession returns the Madonna to the sanctuary outside town. (Information and photo from lampedusainfo.it.)  

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