The grandiose religious complex of Oropa is set among the peaks, forests and pastures of the Biellese Pre-Alps, at 1159 metres above sea level. It is difficult to find a place of worship and pilgrimage in Italy that is more profoundly linked to the surrounding landscape and geography, and there are very specific reasons why, several centuries ago, it was decided to build a sanctuary in such a secluded and evocative location.
It is said, in fact, that in the 4th century A.D. Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli, escaped from the religious persecution he suffered on the Piedmont plains and chose this isolated location to find peace, bringing with him a statue of the Virgin in black wood from Palestine. Around this legendary episode, one of the most important Marian shrines in Europe has grown over centuries of construction and investment.
Witness to the faith and devotion that have united the Biellese community for centuries, Oropa welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year, who flock to pay homage to the effigy of the Black Madonna. There are those who arrive at Oropa by bus or car and those who arrive by bicycle. There are also those who reach the sanctuary after a journey lasting days, weeks or even months, during which the pilgrim accumulates an indescribable load of expectation and emotion, until the sacred moment when in Oropa he can finally receive the testimonium, which attests to the end of his journey.
But Oropa is not only spirituality, history and architecture: in fact, a range of sports and nature activities opens up all around the sanctuary. Mount Mucrone, Mount Mars and Mount Cammino, all well over 2000 metres above sea level, are transformed in fine weather into hiking paradises for lovers of Alpine flora, fauna and geology. Winter sports enthusiasts, on the other hand, can travel a few kilometres in the direction of Bielmonte to enjoy downhill or cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with friends.