Boccadirio is a place of silence and unspoiled nature. It is the most important sanctuary in the Bologna district after Madonna di San Luca.
Boccadirio is a place of silence and unspoiled nature. It is the most important sanctuary in the Bologna district after Madonna di San Luca and every year it is the destination of thousands of devout pilgrims. The first official documents date to the early 1600s and tell of the prodigious event that occurred on July 6, 1480, involving two young shepherds: Donato and Cornelia. The Virgin appeared to them as they grazed their sheep on the bank of the torrent where the high altar now stands. Mother Mary approached the two children who prayed to her in ecstasy and predicted the priesthood for Donato and monastic life for Cornelia. She added that she wanted local people to erect a temple in Her honour and that She was bestowing Her graces to whoever was praying to Her there (hence the name of Beata Vergine delle Grazie). Around 1505, the faithful demolished the first building and made another one, larger and more dignified, to host the image they received as a gift from the little Cornelia, who had then become Sister Brigida. Donato became parish priest of Castiglione dei Pepoli and Cornelia was a nun for forty years in the convent of Santa Caterina da Siena in Prato. Around the mid-16th century, thanks to the generosity of the noble Pepoli family, the church was enlarged and embellished with artworks, becoming a symbol for the entire Apennines. In the 1600s, the loggia surrounding the beautiful cloister was built and it was completed around 1706 with the adjacent Locanda del Pellegrino. The precious sacred image by Andrea Della Robbia is a white majolica bas-relief on a blue background depicting the Madonna and Child standing. Every year, during the May rogations, the icon returns to visit its people in Baragazza and stays in the San Michele church until the Ascension. Since 1947 the Dehonian fathers have taken care of the Shrine and of the pilgrims arriving from all over the world.