A short outline of history

  (Traduzione a cura di Monica)


In this valley that was once called del Deserto (of the Desert) in 1500, we could find woods, the only resource of this place until 1950.

In these woods there were some driers, some little brick houses with inside a grating on which the chestnuts were laid to be dried.

Really on one of these driers, whose a piece of the inside wall is a real proof, behind the high altar, it was painted by a stranger in a very rough way Virgin Mary with Child Jesus sat on a throne.

This holy image has been retouched many times with the passing of time, altering the appearance too.

In 1964, thanks to professor Gabriele Cena, the first image has been brought to light.

Are you asking yourselves why a sanctuary has been built in so a lonely place. Here there is the answer.

In 1724, according to the folk tradition, the Virgin of the Desert did an important miracle.

Through one of the paths which links up Liguria with lower Piemonte, a woman was walking with her born blind son.

That mother was from Finale Ligure (SV) and she had to go to Ceva (Cn), where she had known there was a doctor who treated blind people.

In the evening, near the Virgin of Garbazzo or of the three fountains, also called in this way because this place is full of water, the woman found that drier where they could sleep in and she prayed in front of the holy portrait, maybe calling for help for the long way she still had to do and maybe in order to obtain the grace of recovery.

Next morning the woman still prayed the Virgin of the Desert and while they were leaving her son, who had never spoken and never seen before, told her: “Mum, how beautiful you are!”

Here the great miracle! The woman ran toward the small village in the valley, announcing the fact .

Since then people, from every places, began arriving at the Virgin of the Desert who did and does still nowadays miracles and graces.

In 1726 there were already 5 – 6 thousands people on public holidays.

On September 1726 the permission to build the first church: SS. NOME DI MARIA by the bishop of Alba, diocese which comprehended the Desert Valley.

In winter between 1726 and 1727 the little church was built and finished by the believers from close areas who tireless worked.

On 22nd May 1727, on Monday after Whitsun the church was blessed and the First Mass was celebrated and a crowd of 5.000 people was present.

In 1796 the French Revolution damaged the little church for two times destroying every historical document and burning pictures and other objects of pity and of value.

Luckily the church saved itself and it was restored in the ruined parts.

In 1809, Pope Pio VII, who also spent the night in Millesimo, granted the plenary indulgence to everyone, confessed and communicated, had prayed for his intensions.

Because of the lack of space, due to the great crowd that arrived at the Sanctuary, in 1867 a bigger temple was built.

The present Sanctuary, Greek - cross shaped, with a nave where there are eight hexagonal pillars, on both sides two chapels and with a 53 metres high round dome, was ended but not finished according to the drawing by the land -surveyor Bertero di Carmagnola, in 1878 thanks to the work of every believer who came here at the Desert.

In 1893 there was the first coronation of Virgin Mary and Child Jesus, it was awarded by the Pope by request of Placido Pozzi, Bishop of Mondově.

In order to embellish at best the new Sanctuary from 1946 to 1952 the Canon don Ruffino, the rector, made the apse to be painted by Master Adalberto Migliorati , and after his death (1952), by two of his pupils’ who finished the dome and the prompt box.

From 1961, thanks to the rector Don Vignolo, the Sanctuary has become church and it counts about sixty parishioners whose many children.

The main feasts of the Sanctuary begin from the second Sunday in Settember and, from 1994 they go on to the first Sunday in October. The celebrated feasts are: SS. Nome di Maria, Maria Vergine Addolorata, Cuore Immacolato di Maria, la Festa delle Famiglie e degli Angeli Custodi.

Inside the Sanctuary there are also two collections of ex-voto pictures: the first one drawn in charcoal by the painter from Millesimo Giuseppe Barlocco and the second one by the painter from Cairo Montenotte Carlo Leone Gallo. Next to the Sanctuary there is also a photographic exhibition where some historical documents and photographs of the past have been gathered in order to go along history.

The organ in the Sanctuary was built in 1855 by the Agati brothers from Pistoia. It is antecedent to the construction of the present parish church because of it was built for the Sanctuary Nostra Signora della Misericordia of Savona. It was sold in 1927 to the parish church of Millesimo for 5.000 liras (the real value was 1.500 liras), it was placed in the Sanctuary and still nowdays it is utilised to accompany the Eucharistic celebrations and from 1997 (the year of the repair) during Summer, to perform some concerts.


Have a nice visit!