Beata Vergine del Patrocinio (Faenza, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy)

Commemorated on December 14
Beata Vergine del Patrocinio (Faenza, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy) In Forlì, in eastern Italy, the Baldi family owned a painting of the Madonna nursing the Christ Child. A woman of the family joined the Camaldolese Benedictine Convent there under the name of Sister Frances, and at her death, the Bishop requested that the sacred image be moved to the convent church. In 1614, such great crowds attended the Madonna's transfer ceremony that the Sisters decided to build a special chapel for the Blessed Virgin of Defense. On the last Sunday of September, 1650, the painting was installed in its new marble shrine. An annual festa on that day commemorated the beginning of public veneration of the Virgin of Defense. In the night of November 20, 1685, a fire spread from the convent laundry to the parlor and sacristy and had almost entered the chapel of the holy image when the flames stopped unexpectedly. Only in morning did the nuns realize what happened. This miracle rekindled public devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Defense, which the Vatican approved officially in 1721. During the Risorgimento, the government closed many religious communities and seized their goods. When their convent was suppressed in 1862, the Camaldolese nuns of Forlì moved with their Madonna to Faenza, about 15 miles away. On December 14, 1954, at the close of the Marian Year, the sacred image was solemnly crowned by the Bishop of Faenza, Msgr. Giuseppe Battaglia. At the nuns' request, the Virgin's crown was made of the gold rings they had received at their solemn profession, together with pilgrims' votive offerings. St. Catherine's Convent was demolished in 2008 for construction of a Catholic rest home.  

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