A short outline of history
valley that was once called del Deserto (of the Desert) in 1500, we could find
woods, the only resource of this place until 1950.
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.
image has been retouched many times with the passing of time, altering the
thanks to professor Gabriele Cena, the first image has been brought to light.
asking yourselves why a sanctuary has been built in so a lonely place. Here
there is the answer.
according to the folk tradition, the Virgin of the Desert did an important
of the paths which links up Liguria with lower Piemonte, a woman was walking
with her born blind son.
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.
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.
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
great miracle! The woman ran toward the small village in the valley, announcing
the fact .
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.
1726 the permission to build the first church: SS. NOME DI MARIA by the bishop
of Alba, diocese which comprehended the Desert Valley.
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historical document and burning pictures and other objects of pity and of value.
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.
the lack of space, due to the great crowd that arrived at the Sanctuary, in 1867
a bigger temple was built.
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
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
thanks to the rector Don Vignolo, the Sanctuary has become church and it counts
about sixty parishioners whose many children.
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.
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
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!