MARIAN APPARITIONS (88) – Arezzo, Italy

In the year 1200, two young shepherdesses, while guarding their flocks, are wont to sing the simple and ingenuous praise around a newsstand on which is painted the image of the Madonna. Suddenly there was a flicker, and between the light beam, there appeared to them a lady majestic and regal. The two girls, scared, were about to take off when a loving voice reassured them and told them:

“My children, fear not! I am Mary, the Mother of God, who wanted to extend my special protection to this place, I wish a temple erected here, modest, but filled with my presence and home to my virtues. Go and tell your parents of my desire and to rulers.”

The lucky girls tell what they saw and heard to their parents, who reported it immediately to the authorities of Castiglione Fiorentino, but, as is natural, did not lend any faith to the pious story. The Apparition was repeated a second and a third time. This last time, as if to confirm the request, it added the unexpected result of a fountain of clear water.

The news of several appearances and even more the appearance of the fountain spread like wildfire. People flocked en masse after finding the truth of what has been reported, the Rulers of the City recognized as truth what happened. As if to repair the initial incredulity, immediately put themselves to work building a small chapel, which surrounded the shrine before which the girls prayed. They also built a small bowl to collect the water from the spring, which now turned miraculous. Many have given witness to miraculous occurrences.

Around 1523, the modest chapel was now unable to contain the faithful who came from every part of the City. The people of Castiglione Fiorentino decided to erect, at a distance a new larger church and more majestic. Even before it was completed, the image of the Virgin was moved in, but the next day, the picture was found in its usual place. This event occurred three times, and it was therefore considered to be the will of Our Lady to remain where she was.

The following year, the Bishop of Arezzo, Monsignor Francis Minerbetti, with great solemnity and in midst of large assembly of people, crowned the picture. Since then, every year, the first Sunday in June, the local authorities, the clergy and people of Castiglione Fiorentino go in procession to attend the Feast of Our Lady of the Bath. The devotion to Our Lady of the Bath is growing thanks to the people who receive special graces, drinking or bathing with deep faith in the miraculous waters.

In addition, a new and surprising miracle, attested by the writers of the time, begins to manifest itself. On Saturday nights, for several years, the villagers of Noceta have noticed light emanate from the top of the Chapel of Our Lady, which spreads around illuminating the sanctuary and its surroundings.

Two priests were given the task of building a new church by the Rector Thomas Rudolph Schiani. The foundation stone was laid on April 1, 1875, and the church was open to the public worship on August 14, 1887. The new church, therefore, is the fruit of the piety of the faithful of the various parishes of the noble land of Castiglione Fiorentino.

Compiled from by Tej Francis