Santuario della Beata Vergine (Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin)

Madonna dei Prati is located 2 kilometres to the north of Roncole. This majestic building, characterized by a central ground plan with apse, was built between 1690 and 1695-1696 by the architect Don Francesco Callegari to preserve a miraculous frescoed image of the Virgin Mary, located in a small chapel in Prati della Colombarola since the 15th century. The outside and the façade were never completed.
In the chapel to the right there is a beautiful carved frame from the end of the 1600s containing a contemporary Holy Family and Saints, a copy of a painting by Girolamo Bedoli of Parma housed in the Museum of Capodimonte in Naples. Other monumental frames from the same period are to be found in the chapel to the left containing the painting with God the Father and the Holy Family, dating back to the early 17th century and attributed to the painter Pasquale Ottino of Verona), and in the apse. The latter is probably the work of Giovanni Setti, who was active in Piacenza under the Farnese family. The sanctuary is a traditional destination for pilgrimages, even from the nearby dioceses of Cremona, Parma and Piacenza. Giuseppe Verdi also attended this church for two reasons: visits to his paternal grandmother in the village, and to learn the rudiments of music from Don Paolo Costa in an upstairs room of the rectory. The sanctuary is also linked to Verdi’s name because of the terrible disaster that took place on 14th September 1828. It is narrated that some time before, Verdi, who was serving Mass in Roncole as altar boy, allowed himself to become enraptured by the melody of the organ. The celebrant, Don Jacopo Masini, who wanted to bring the boy back to attention, gave Verdi a kick that made him tumble to the foot of the altar. Boldly, the future musician called out a curse, “Ch’at vena na saieta!” (May you be struck by lightning). That 14th September, the feast of the Name of Mary, a bolt of lightning entered the sanctuary, striking and killing four priests, including Don Masini, and two young choir boys, one of whom was Verdi’s cousin. Fate dictated that he, stuck in a nearby house because of the furious storm, would never reach Madonna Prati where he was supposed to accompany Vespers on the harmonium. The disaster caused him a sense of guilt and terror because of his curse and must have left a deep impression on the people of the village since an anonymous engraver left a naive but amusing illustration (1828).


Madonna Prati – Busseto (PR)
Tel. 0524.92568