"Tomorrow as is my custom every time I leave Pollone, I’ll go up to Oropa to pray in the Holy Shrine. I’ll remember you at the feet of the brown Madonna." (Excerpt from a letter by Pier Giorgio Frassati to Isidoro Bonini on April 15, 1925)
Large crowds come to the Sanctuary of Oropa. Many pilgrims still travel the winding roads by foot, as Pier Giorgio did. It is a beautiful place at the base of the mountains in northern Italy where he loved to come and pray. Prior to Pier Giorgio's beatification, Saint Pope John Paul II visited Oropa and delivered his Sunday Angelus message.
The complex is quite extensive with a very large courtyard and many hotel rooms and restaurants. A native dish served in Oropa is polenta -- loaded with butter and cheese for which the region is particularly known for.
There are two church structures. The "Old Church" bears a slight resemblance to the front of the Alamo and is somewhat overshadowed by the majestic cupola of the "New Church." Ironically, construction began on the New Church even while Pier Giorgio was alive. Because of funding problems, it is still not entirely completed. Many visitors to Oropa mistakenly only go to the New Church and overlook the Old Church. But the Old Church is home to the original statue of the Madonna and it is here that Pier Giorgio poured out his heart time and time again in prayer. He would have no doubt participated in the recitation of the rosary and the singing of the Salve Regina. And, from all accounts, he would have been singing out of tune! To the left of the main altar in a side chapel, high on the wall, is a painting of Pier Giorgio with rosary in hand. There is not even a sign to identify him but he is the Beato, the Blessed one, who loved this little church. Eucharistic processions are very common at the Sanctuary. They begin in the Old Church and make their way out into the courtyard.
Just outside of the Sanctuary complex is the Funivie that transports alpinists to a landing not far from Lake Mucrone. From this point, it is possible to climb to the top of Mount Mucrone and pray at the cross where Pier Giorgio often prayed. The website for the Sanctuary provides greater details about lodging and other points of interest, along with contact information.
(Note: the videos posted on this site were taken with a digital camera on an overcast day and, at the time, were only intended for private use. Although they are not the best quality, they are posted to give a feel of the sanctuary loved so much by Blessed Frassati. ///cmw)
All photos/videos here are ©FrassatiUSA. Requests for permission to use these images should be sent to: info@FrassatiUSA.org.