Presentation and history

This place is ideal for those who want to combine moments of prayer and inner peace to opportunities to relax and enjoy the silence of the shows that nature can offer in this lovely place.

The Sanctuary is located in Spiazzi in one of the most picturesque locations in northern Italy. Rises clinging on the rock of the mountains that surround it, at 774 meters above sea level, overlooking the valley of the Adige river.

The Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Verona Crown is open all year long at the following times:
November to March: from 8 to 18
April to October: from 7 to 19.30

Historical notes

The Shrine of the Corona is a place of silence and meditation, extended between heaven and earth, hidden in the heart of the Baldo rocks. Medieval documents testify that hermits linked to the Abbey of St Zeno in Verona lived in the Baldo area already around the year 1000 and that at least from the second half of the 13th century there was a monastery with a chapel dedicated to St Mary of Montebaldo. This was only accessible by a dangerous narrow path in the rock. A holy tradition dates the birth of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Corona to 1522, the year when the sculpture venerated hen was miraculously transported through angelic intervention from the island of Rhodes, when the island was invaded by the Muslim army of Suliman II. This date is however contested by the existence, in the recesses of the modern shrine, of a fourteenth century painting of the Our Lady and the Child Jesus. This was the first image venerated in the original chapel, which took its name from it. Between 1434 and 1437 St Mary of Montebaldo passed under the ownership of the Knights of St John, or of the Holy Sepulchre, present in Verona since 1362 as the Commenda di San Vitale e Sepolcro, who remained owners of the Shrine until the dissolving under the Napoleonic provision of 1806. It would seem that the group in stone of the Pietà later venerated as Our Lady of the Corona dates to this period. The statue, that is 70 centimetres high, 56 wide and 25 in depth, is made from local stone and painted. It stands on a pedestal that bears the legend “HOC OPUS FECIT FIERI LODOVICUS D CASTROBARCO D 1432”, traditionally considered proof that the statue was made and given to the Corona in 1432 by Lodovico Castelbarco, of a noble family of Rovereto. During its four centuries of operation, the Commenda radically transformed Our Lady of the Corona, turning it into a real spacious and accessible Shrine thanks to the building of a wooden access bridge in the valley (1458) and the construction of a new church measuring 18 metres by 7 over the old chapel (1490-1521).
The sixteenth century saw the creation of two sets of access steps that can still be seen: a wider one, composed of 556 steps which from the spring of Spiazzi, later called “Spring of Independence” went down to the Bridge “del Tiglio”, and a narrower one, 234 steps, cut from the rock along the original very narrow path that went from the bridge to the church.

The new Church

In 1625 work began on the construction of a new and more spacious church 4 metres above the previous one which was incorporated beneath the new presbytery. The work went on for some decades, with the roof being placed in 1664 and the job being finally concluded in 1685. Meantime the access routes were rearranged and, thanks to a contribution from Commendatore Tancredi a hospice was built in a cavity of the mountain for the lodging requirements of the increasingly more numerous pilgrims. The overall arrangement of the entire area of the Shrine is documented in two precious inventories of 1724 and 1744 is perfectly visible in a beautiful engraving made by Giovanni Antonio Urbani in 1750 by order of the rector don Giancarlo Balbi. Towards the end of the 19th century, the church was enlarged and given a new Gothic style facade, with marble decorations. The projects were of the architect Giuseppe Magagnotti of Verona and the engineer Emilio Paor of Trent. The end of the works was solemnized on 17th September 1899 with the ceremony of the crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. Over the following years the facade and church were enriched with statues by the sculptor Ugo Zannoni. Between 1921 and 1922 the bell-tower was rebuilt with a soaring steeple and in 1922, on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the appereance of Our Lady of Sorrows, the road was improved and, on a design by engineer Federici, the access gallery to the Shrine was opened, thus facilitating the path for pilgrims. After the last world war, from 1946 to 1949, the rector Don Sandrini had the church extended in the presbytery area. The project was by architect Banterle.

The modern Basilica

In 1974 the architect Guido Tisato was assigned the job of preparing a project for an overall intervention that foresaw demolishing the existing church, while preserving its most important and significant parts, and the construction of a larger structure. Demolition and reconstruction of the Shrine were carried out from 1975 to 1978 and on 4th June 1978 the Bishop Giuseppe Carraro was able to celebrated the dedication of the new Shrine and the new altar. In 1982 the Shrine was given the title of “basilica minor”. On 17th April 1988 Pope John Paul II visited the Shrine and prayed to our Lady of the Corona.

Artistic aspects

The sculptures by Ugo Zannoni

There are numerous sculptures present in the Shrine, the majority of which, in white Cararra marble, are by the sculptor Ugo Zannoni from Verona. The statues portraying St John Evangelist and St Mary Magdalene, visible in the projecting niches on the facade and the standing Our Lady of Sorrows, now in the Chapel of Confessions date to 1900; the statue of St Joseph and those of the two patron saints of the Knights of Malta, St Toscana and St John the Baptist date to the years 1912-1913 as do the 14 panels of the Via Crucis, on the pilasters of the central nave of the Shrine and the plaster panels of the seven sorrows of Our Lady, now in the Chapel of Adoration; the Ecce Homo and the two Praying Angels, now in the Chapel of Confessions were carried out in 1916; lastly the high-relief of the Encounter of Christ with his Mother dates to 1919, shortly before the artist’s death.

The works by Raffaele Bonente

Bronze casts by the Veronese architect Raffaele Bonente can be admired along the access road. The “set” on the rocky wall of the apse, around the statue of the Pietà surrounded by a crown of thorns and five angelic groups is very original.
To note:
– the altar piece with the three bronze panels portraying the Nativity, the Crucifixion and Pentecost, separated by four pilasters dedicated to the Evangelists; at the sides two panels dedicated to the Veronese church, while the part at the back is subdivided into three panels containing at the sides two Marian invocations and at the centre the heart of Our Lady pierced by seven swords;
– the six candelabra on the altar with the symbols of the Evangelists and allegorical symbols;
– the panel of the Annunciation, placed on the pulpit, and the lectern with the symbols of the four Evangelists, the faces of Abraham, Moses, David and Isaiah;
– and at the centre Christ’s monogram;
– the 1982 tabernacle with the four bronze figures representing faith, hope, charity and religion;
– the 1988 baptistery that shows eight fish in the lower part and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in the upper part;
– the medallion commemorating the papal visit, since 1993 outside the Shrine;
– the stain-glass windows of the right nave of the Shrine showing the mysteries of Rosary;
– the sculptures and stained-glass windows that decorate the chapel of Adoration, carried out in 1990;
– the bronze statues of the stations of the Via Crucis along the road that from the “Stella Alpina” Residence leads to the Shrine.

The ex-voto

Along the right wall of the Shrine there is a real historical-artistic patrimony of ex voto: 167 tablets of different sizes the oldest of which dates to 1547 and shows the miraculous saving of a woman about to drown in the Adige in Verona. From an historical viewpoint the most interesting ex voto is the large canvas donated by the community of Bardolino in 1665, in thanksgiving for the grace obtained of rain, while the most precious is an oil on canvas showing Christ at the pillar, carried out in 1724 by the Veronese painter Antonio Balestra (1666-1740).