Q: Will you tell me about S. Maria del Sacro Monte of Viggiano, Italy?
A: S. Maria del Sacro Monte of Viggiano (Potenza) can be found in the region of Lucania at the southern end of the Italian peninsula situated on a hilltop (alt. 1725 m.). The miraculous image, a "Vergine bruna" (some would incorrectly say a black madonna, whereas in fact we are dealing with a dark complexion) is of Byzantine origin. This statue most probably venerated previously in Grumentum of Antiquity was moved to the hill of Viggiano to protect it from iconoclasts. Expressions of devotion regarding the statue and the site are known since the eleventh century. The statue "migrates" in the course of the year: during the summer months (May through September) it is located in the sanctuary whereas during fall and winter it remains in the parish church of Viggiano. The highpoint of marian devotion surrounding the image is reached in the twice yearly procession, particularly the one when the statue is brought from the parish church to the sanctuary on the mount. The first Sunday in September is considered the patronal feast. The sanctuary is located 73 km. from Potenza and 9 km. from Viggiano.
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