The history of a miraculous icon
The Temple of the Blessed Virgin of the Ghiara stands in Reggio Emilia along the ancient Corso della Ghiara, now Corso Garibaldi. Here, in the 14th century, the Servants of Mary religious order built a simple church featuring a fresco depicting the Madonna.
Legend says that, in 1596, a deaf-mute young man praying to this painting by Bertone miraculously regained his hearing and speech. A few days later, in another miracle, the Virgin healed a woman who had been ill for 18 years.
The site, which stood outside the city walls, soon became a place of pilgrimage and, thanks to worshippers’ offerings, it was decided to build a larger, more lavish church. The foundation stone was laid in 1597, approved by Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. A 52-metre-high bell tower was also built.
The late Renaissance interior is decorated with marble, gilding and frescoes. Old Testament stories decorate the vaults and domes. The sacristy houses a special clock by Ranzani of Reggio, showing the day, phase of the moon and zodiac sign. A small museum houses the miraculous icon of the Madonna, alongside precious examples of 17th-18th-century local goldsmithing.