The Sanctuary of Merciful Love
THE SANCTUARY OF MERCIFUL LOVE
WHERE GOD AWAITS MEN
...not as a judge to condemn them
and infltict his punishment
but as a loving Father,
who forgives them,
who forgets and takes no account
of the offences committed agoinst HIM
At the 43rd km of the Tiberina main road, about 120 kilometers North of Rome, a signpost strikes passers-by and invites them to go on a pilgrimage to COLLEVALENZA - SANCTUARY OF MERCIFUL LOVE:
The Sanctuary of Merciful Love - Collevalenza
The pilgrim reaches Collevalenza, a small village in the district of Todi, in the Province of Perugia, situated at about 350 meters above sea level on a hill that gently slopes down into a valley.
It was here that on the 18th August 1951, by a special disposition of Divine Providence, Mother Speranza, with some of her sisters and the first Sons of Merciful Love, came to settle.
It was Gods design that Collevalenza, that attrected people with its roccolo (nets to catch birds) and its festivals, were then to become the roccolo of Gods nets of Divine Mercy which is seeking, calling and attracting to Him all souls, sinners and the needy, who are His sons and daughters.
It was just there, in that woodland, the site of bird-traps, that Mother Speranza laid Her eyes and started the construction of the Sanctuary and the other works.
It was to become a center of spirituality from where the call of Merciful Love radiated in all directions, to make God known not as an offended Judge always ready to condemn men and to inflict upon them His punishment, but as a loving Father, always ready to welcome the prodigal son, as faithful friend, ready to succor us, to help us, to excuse us and to sacrifice Himself for us!
The devotion and doctrine of Merciful Love
This is not a new devotion or a new doctrine; it is as old as God, who moved by love and mercy at the misery of men, did not hesitate to sacrifice His only son for the worlds redemption.
On the 30th September 1959, Msgr. De Sanctis Bishop of Todi, inaugurated a new era in the spread of this devotion when, at Collevalenza, he canonically consecrated the new Sanctuary of Merciful Love.
Some months later, on the 2nd March 1960, the Sovereign Pontiff John xxm sent to the Sanctuary one of the candles that are forwarded to the most important Sanctuaries in the world, and on the 3th of April granted a plenary indulgence to the pilgrims whenever they visited the Sanctuary.
On the 22nd November 1981 the Holy Father John Paul II went on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Merciful Love to read another time, to pronounce another time, to reconfirm in some way the message of the encyclical Dives in misericordia published one year before. Since the beginning of my ministery of the Holy See - he said in his speech of the Angelus - I considered that message my particular task. Providence assigned it to me. In the encyclical he said among other things that Church is authentic if its professing. . .if itts proclaiming. .. and if its invoking Divine Mercy.
As a memorial to this pilgrimage on the 17th april 1982 the Holy Father John Paul II himself conferred upon the Sanctuary the title of Minor Basilica.
The first part of the Sanctuary to be built was the Chapel of Merciful Love in 1955, then the flow of the pilgrims quickly became so large that it was felt necessary to built a new large Temple (Basilica and Crypt) which was consecrated the 31S October 1965 by S.E. Mons. Fustella, bishop of Todi, and solemnly inaugurated by His Eminence Cardinal Ottaviani and 62 other bishops from all over the world.
The aim of the architect, Julio Laffiente, in creating the Sanctuary was deeply symbolic.
The Chapel of Merciful Love
It is a modern bold structure, simple~but imposingly elevated.
The entrance to this small temple, with its special windows, suggests feelings of humility.
The series of slanting reliefs impress a unifying rhythm upon the building. The iriterior surges towards the apse: it symbolizes our ascension to God.
The Crucufix embraces us with open arms, and with His expression of serenity encourages confidence and trust. The rich red surfacing of the apse speaks of love. The covering is made of padouck, a red tropical wood.
Light flows down from the windows designed to echo the rhythmic lines of the building.
The Crucufix is a realistically painted wood carving, the work of the artist Cullot Valera. It represents Jesus Merciful Love.
The Cross calls ti mind the sacrifice of Calvary, the white host the daily renewal of the sacrifice on the Altar.
The Cross is raised on the top of a globe, the world which carries a royal crown and an open book, the Gospel. On the book there is written: Love one another as I loved you and on the cushion under the crown there id the following sentence: O Christ, you are the King of Glory.
Jesus Merciful Love wants to rule the world and bring His love into it.
The distinctive expression of the face suggests great serenity although subject to pain and suffering.
It represents Jesus still alive on the Cross, the glance to heaven like in an act of supplication to the Father: Father, forgive them. On His breast we can see the heart, red and surmounted by an inscription: Charitas.
How strong must have been His love to take upon Himself with joy such great suffering.
With His suffering He gives a proof amd measure of His great love.
Numerous candles give a mystical tonch. The pilgrim, leaving the Crucifix, wishes to leave somthing that testifies to the love of his greatful heart.
The pilgrims attention is also drawn to the impressive number of ex voto on the walls: they bear witness to Divine Mercy.
They are favors received, symbols of hearts of those who have benefitted, and who wish to be eternally grateful to the Lord.
Each tile has been catalogued numerically, and the medical certificates and declarations pertaining to them are in the archives.
The Temple is formed in the space created by two rows of cylinders separated from one another in order to permit the light to enter, and they are covered with a large reinforced concrete ceiling.
These cylinders, hollowed out in their entire height, fotm the Chapels.
A delicate and smiling Infant Jesus has been placed on the right for our veneration. He invites us to meditate on the thonght that our God became Child for our love.
In the middle there is a large, luminous nave. The light penetrates into the Church, from every side as if in a forest: the light was a fundamental element in the planning of the Church, almost as if it were another material, the most precious material: Rays of light fall on the bricks between the cylinders that accentuate the cavities. Soft light falls above the chapels exalting their vertical lines. Diffuse light falling from the large ceiling cross illuminates yhe nave. Intense light is concentrated on the main altar. Vibrant colored light enters through the stained glass windows at the both ends of teh Temple.
At the focal point of the Church, the white marble materializes what the modern liturgy emphasizes: the Altar, the pulpit, and the tabernacle are covered with a copper canopy which accentuates their sacred character.
The organ extends towards the front a magnificent set of pipes in polished copper...
The lower zone is drew to the plan in saddles placed side by side of short, cut pipes like of pewter. On the upper part, on the contrary, there is like a block, an armour of long pipes of red copper, united and side by side in form of legion.
This results in the geometrical shape of a flame faring towards the ceiling, made of polished wood and opaque metal...a Glory! ...a Hosanna in the background of the temple.
It was created by the firm Tamburini of Crema.
On the large facade the space between the two terminal cylinders has been closed by a knitted veil of cement with a big Crucifix in the center, designed by the painter Villalta.
The same cylinnders, with their interior cavities, form the Chapels.
Of the twelve chapels one has been set up as the Chapel of Confessions.
The Confessionals are surmounted by a large Cross: Salvation from man comes from above, by means of the Cross of Jesus.
In the two lateral entrances to the central door, under a cone of light, are the two holy water basins.
The basins that contain the holy water are made of white marble, smoothly polished, in contrast to the crude stone which supports them; they symbolize the soul purified by the Grace of God.
By means of a stairway built into one of the cylinder supports we can reach the Crypt.
A enormous plate of cement is placed over the main entrance and protrudes on the outside like a shelter in the internal part from the choir.
On approaching the Basilica the pilgrim feels oppressed and crushed by his pains, his worries, his sins. On entering he has the sensation to be in the House of the Father and breathes the immensity of the Temple.
The doors are of embossed copper.
The same cylinders which support the whole building continue underneath the level of the Temple, making room for the Crypt, partially interred and illuminated directly by the same light of the Temple through great open buttonholes inthe attic at the foot of the same cylinders which also in the Crypt form in their interior the Chapels.
On a raised plane in the background there is the place for Confessions.
The Altar of the Crypt is dedicated to Mary Mediatrix.
Above the Altar, a Mosaic by Mariano Villalta represents Our Lady with the Apostels at Pentecost.
Behind the Altar there is the tomb of Mother Speranza.
Outside to the left of the entrance to the temple it is possible to reach the fountain where the pilgrims quench the thirst of their body and spirit. It is the water of the Sanctuary.
The water has been raised by Holy Scripture to signify the Action of Grace; it washes,purifies, heals to Eternal Life.
It is the water of Merciful Love.
The well was dug at the express wish of Mother Speranza, in the precise place indicated by Her.
The workings for the well were terminated at the end of 1960. The well is 122 meters deep.
The same water fills the bath for the sick and it it taken away by the pilgrims for devotion.
In the background is the Home of the Young, the Home of the Pilgrim and the baths for the sick.
Raising our eyes, we are anchanted by the vision of a beautiful, white marble statue of Our Lady with Her arms raised as in the act of intercession to Her Divine Son; it is Mary Mediatrix; the Immaculate one from whome blossemed Jesus, the Host, the Victim offered for our salvation, who from His Mothers womb nurtured sentiments and desires to sacrifice Himself for us. On coming into the world he said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. With a burnt offering you were not pleased. Then I said Here I am. It is written about me in the scroll. I have come to do your will, o God. (Hebrews 10, 5-7)
The Via Crucis
Towards the valley the Sanctuary is framed by a road which winds for about 800 meters the Way of the Cross.
The mystery of Gods Love for men is remembered in a way that impresses also our senses and our imagination: For this is how God loved the world: He gave us His only son.
The Sanctuary publishes a monthly review in order to publicise and illustrate the devotion of Merciful Love, repeating the cheering truth that God loves us like a Father. Also it keeps us informed about activities of the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary also publishes a Novena to Merciful Love written by Mother Speranza herself.
The Institute of Merciful Love
It is the Mother house of the Sons of Merciful Love, a religious community formed by Fathers, Diocesan Priests with vows and Brothers both with a degree title and also artisans. It is a religious community which aims besides any activity of charity to attend to the assistance and sanctification of the diocesan clergy especially by building links between them and the religious order.
The new Congregation was founded by the rev. Mother Speranza on August 15th 1951; it was erected as a Congregation of diocesan right on the 19th July 1968 and papal right the 18th of August 1982. On the August 18th 1951 she settled in Collevalenza at the Parochial home; the institute was built in 1953.
The home of the young
The home of the young where the handmaids of Merciful Love live, was built in 1962: It is also the seat of the noviciate of the Congregation. The Congregation of the E.A.M. was founded by Mother Speranza in Spain, in Madrid, on the 25-12-1930. It was formed Congregation of diocesan right on the 4-3-1942 and of papal right 1949.
In the same Congregation as well as sisters called to testify in public their consecration there are handmaids who in virtue of a special option and without any exterior sign of consecration Christ Merciffil Love, in the world, included in different professional fields spread. ???
At the moment there are houses of the Congregation in Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Bolivia, Romania and India.
The principal aim of the Congregation is the exercise of charitable works especially education, instruction of the needy children, assistance of the poor and sick, the spread of the devotion of Merciful Love.
In 1995 the Congregation of Mother Speranza decided to found the Association of the lay of Merciful Love where brothers and sisters and couples after a spiritual preparation are involved to share with the Community the Spirit of the Love of God, to transmit it to other people and to do voluntary service.
Mother Speranza was born in Spain at Santomera (Murcia) on the 30th September 1893. at the age of 21 she bocome sister in a convent of the Hijas del Calvario, and then, in 1921 this order was joined to Las Religiosas de Ensenanza de Maria Inmaculada.
At the age of 37 she founded the Congregation of the Handmaids of Merciful Love; on the 2nd July 1936 she opened her first community in Italy, in Rome.
On the 15th August the mens religious Congregation of Sons of Merciful Love was founded.
In order to spread the concept of the great unlimited Love of our Lord Jesus Christ she realised the Sanctuary of Merciful Love at Collevalenza.
Mother Speranza died on the 8th February 1983 at the age of almost ninety, her body was buried in the Crypt on the 13th February 1983.
Collevalenza is situated in Umbria (Italy), in the Province of Perugia, 6 km south of Todi on thw way to Foligno.
At Collevalenza it is possible to find lodging in the House of the Pilgrim, a modern building, in the immediate vicinity of the Sanctuary.
It is connected to the autostrada del Sole from Orte station from the south and Valdichiana from the north.
It is connected to the Italian State Railways with the station of Terni for the south, of Ponte San Giovanni for the north, by the Central Umbran Railways S.Sepolcro-Terni; to go to Collevalenza it is advisable to get off at the station of Todi Ponte Rio or at the station of Massa Martana.
Every week-day a coach leaves Rome from Tiburtina station for Collevalenza at 7.15 am, at 8.15 am and 4 pm.
Every week-day a coach leaves Perugia from Piazza Partigiani for Collevalenza at 2.30 pm.
For any ffirther information write or call:
Santuario Amore Misericordioso
06050 Collevalenza (Perugia)
Tel. (075) 89.581 -Fax (075) 89.58.228 - c.c.p. 11819067
ultimo aggiornamento 05 maggio, 2005