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Sanctuary of Castellazzo Bormida

Sanctuary of “Beata Vergine della creta e delle grazie” is situated at the entrance of the little town of Castellazzo Bormida, in the province of Alessandria. Its history his linked to the event of the great plague described by the Manzoni. The pious Giovanni Viola, ordered the building of a little countryside church in 1631, perhaps in order to ask for the Virgin’s protection or to thank Her not to be contaminated by the plague. He was helped by other devoted people and the church was erected in an area 100mq. Wide. It had a tower bell containing only one bell and the ceiling was made of wood chest of drawers artistically engraved in the same way as the old primitive churches. On the church altar a picture of the “Virgin Mary” was exposed and it was attributed the title of “Beata Vergine della creta”. We can admire this picture even today as it is on the main altar of the church itself. Different opinions are given as regards the origin of the picture, the most probable one is that Viola had commissioned the work to an unknown artist, who was probably inspired by the sanctuary of “Sacred Mount” in Crea in Monferrato (Piedmont).When the founder died, the little church, already damaged was demolished in 1764 and the picture of the Virgin was taken to another church. Despite the church did not exist anymore, a lot of religious people coming to Alessandria, stopped in that sacred place to pray, so the Archbishop ordered the building of a brick pillar and charged the painter Giovanni Battista Bagliani from Bergamasco  to paint there the image of the Virgin Lady (the painting is still visible in the rotunda on the side of the Sanctuary); it was in 1781. The building of a new church started with a project of 1797, but the work was interrupted due to the famous battle of Marengo (1800) and the area destined to the building was transformed into a cemetery for the French injured people of Napoleon. In 1842 the work started again and the new sanctuary was blessed on 8th November 1846 by the Bishop of Alessandria, the image of the Blesses Virgin came back to her seat and in addition a rotunda was internally built within the church itself.