Madonna del Soccorso: the chapel walk in a
wonderful autumn setting.

The Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio

The origins of the Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio are lost in antiquity, although there is evidence of pagan rites in honour of the goddess Cerere as well as an apparition of the Virgin Mary during the Middle Ages, who, according to legend, healed a little shepherdess that was deaf and dumb. This event inspired the construction of a small sanctuary on the remains of a Roman tempietto, situated at 419 metres of altitude and called Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Rescue). Dates however are uncertain. Around 1500, plans were made for the erection of a big church preceded by a path dedicated to the Via Crucis (following a belief that was commonly widespread during the Counter - Reformation period), consisting in modest spiritual journeys as an alternative to pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The hill was an ideal refuge for contemplation and prayer, directly immersed in a rural context for which such Christian message was intended. The works began in 1635 with the construction of 230 statues in stucco and terracotta, collocated inside 14 Baroque chapels, attributed to the Ticinese Agostino Silva. As of today, after a long period of shameful degradation, the whole site, including the church of S. Maria Maddalena and the solitary coenoby of S.Benedetto, is undergoing massive restoration works thanks to the intervention of the UE.

S.Benedetto rises upon the most internal slope of the mountain, in the precipitous val Perlana, an impenetrable territory that has remained uncontaminated up to the present day. The church was erected as a Benedictine monastery during the 11th century, but gradually degenerated over time. Today it stands in complete ruins. Nonetheless, these remains are still worth visiting, given the magnificent environmental context in which they are set.

Several views of S.Benedetto.

Left: a nice salamander along the path.