Our Lady of Graces shrine


From Capoliveri town square you have to go through the county road for 3 kilometres toward Madonna delle Grazie, Pareti, Innamorata. You can reach Our Lady of Graces church in the locality with the same name, 100 meters from the sea. The modern street from the town to the shrine retrace the path the French monks (refugees of the French Revolution) created to thank for the hospitality in the hermitage close to the shrine in 1792.


It was built in the XVI century, when the Renaissance was being replaced by the Baroque. It has a Latin cross plant with a “scale” dome on the top and an oriental style bell tower. The façade has a main door, and on it there is an interrupted arch and a shield with Madonna’s initials. Contiguous to the church there is a two floor building where till the XIX century the hermits lived. In the sacristy there are many ex voto proving that many Capoliveri inhabitants have received the grace. They have always been grateful to Mary, and the crown on the Virgin’s head is adorned with precious stones offered by Capoliveri population in 1960. The ornamental frame was offered 3 years later by the miners.

In the shrine you can admire a wonderful panelled ceiling (today a jewel of ancient art) frescoed by the elban painter Eugenio Allori. On the rose marble and onyx major altar there is a little oil canvas painting with the seated Virgin. She is seating on a bench with a Bible in her hands and the baby on her womb. On her side there are Saint Joseph and John the Baptist. The latter has his index finger near his mouth, to indicate silence. The name of the shrine is born from this gesture. The precious work is attributed to Marcello Venusti (1512-1569), Michelangelo’s apprentice. He probably realized this work of art using a sketch that the Master gave to his pupils. The original work is conserved in a secret place and the one on the altar is a perfect duplicate.

On the side altars there is a wooden statue of Saint Lucy and a painting of Saint Ann. On the main entrance there is an XVIII century pipe organ by Filippo Tronci.
The sacred building was built at the end of the XVI century, but is probable that the original structure was of the middle Ages. It is highly probable that it was simpler than a Romanesque chapel with an opposite orientation compared with the shrine.

It seems that the hermitage was inhabited by the Saint Mamiliano of Montecristo monks, during their trips between Elba Island and Montecristo Island. They founded the modern shrine when the abbey on their island was burned down by pirates.

Some stories tell that the shrine was created thanks to a famous painting founded on the beach and brought to the town. It was then miraculously found again in the original place: that is the place where the shine was built. Other stories tell that the Saint Mamiliano monks arrived where now there is the shine and they took shelter into a cavern, building there the hermitage.

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