Frank and I have visited duomos and basilicas all over Italy that are famous for their art, history, or architecture. Today we visited a church that was not on the “must see” list of our guidebook, but it was all the more meaningful.
Enza selected our destination today – Sanctuario della Madonna delle Lacrime
It is well-known to the people of Sicily, but not often visited by others.
On this site in 1954, there was a house that contained a small statue of Mary. All of a sudden, the statue started weeping. It wept for 5 days, with hundreds coming to see it. Scientists collected samples and discovered the substance was human tears. Then, miracles started happening to those who came to the site – people healed or prayers answered.
In 1994, a church was built on the site, which is now considered sacred. The church is very modern and in the shape of a giant teardrop. Inside on the altar is the statute of Mary. Pilgrims come to this church to pray and ask for their own miracles. There is even a hotel across the street that caters to them – we had lunch there.
Below in the crypt are the original foundations of the little house. Also, testimony to all the miracles that have happened – braces and crutches no longer needed and many, many thank you messages. Some people have sent metal ornaments of a body part that has been healed, and there are pictures and notes about children who were born after much prayer. There even is a display of several wedding gowns – I’m not sure if their families thought it was a “miracle” the bride finally married, but they obviously were thankful.
So sometimes it pays to throw out the guidebooks and listen to a local.
Last night, we met even more family! Evelina’s husband’s (Toto’s) sister, Claudia, invited us to their home in the nearby town of Floridia. Claudia’s husband, Ruggero, is an attorney by day and chef by evening (he practices criminal law, which he says is very interesting being in Sicily – I can imagine!).
Ruggero and Claudia had a feast waiting for us of cous cous with pesce (fish), seppie nero (squid served in its black ink), and even homemade wine and limoncello.
The highlight was escargot – from their own yard (they say they come out in droves when it rains). We used toothpicks to pull them out of their shells. Apparently Floridia is famous for its snails and even has a festival in honor of them. I can say they were delicious.
A good time was had by all. I think Frank and I will have to sleep for a month (and go on a diet) after the last two weeks!