The green meadows on the hill of Roverano were a very good pasture for the herds of the local shepherds. Two poor young shepherdesses were used to go there: they were both very devoted to the Virgin and one of them was mute since birth. One day* (*the day was certainly the 7th of September, as for the year it is likely a span of time that goes from 1350 to 1352) , while they were resting at the foot of an olive tree, a very beautiful lady dressed in blue suddenly appeared in front of them. She was the Holy Virgin, who calmed down the upset girls with motherly tenderness and then, talking to the mute one, said: "Go shepherdess and call the parish priest of L'Ago, tell him to come here".

(*the day was certainly the 7th of September, as for the year it is likely a span of time that
goes from 1350 to 1352)

The girl, who had always been speechless up to then, suddenly spoke and answered: "I'll go". Then she went to the parish priest and told him in detail what she had seen. The priest, quite excited, gathered the people of L'Ago and went to Roverano. When they reached the place of the Apparition everybody hoped to see the Madonna, but the vision had disappeared. A third miracle had happened in the meantime: from the tall olive tree down hung a wooden picture with the image of the Virgin.


After stopping there for a while in prayer, the priest ordered to move the painting to L'Ago. When the day after all the inhabitants of the village went to the church to pray the prodigious image, they found it had disappeared. Since all researches were vain, they thought to go back to Roverano, to the place of the Apparition: the painting was hanging back again from the olive tree. People then understood that the Virgin Mary wanted to stay in Roverano.


What we can say about the origins of the picture is that it is a wonderful painting on wood, of Italian-Byzantine school, about 80x70 cm large: it represents Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms caught in the act of blessing.


While the people of L'Ago worked to build a chapel at Roverano, the painting was temporarily kept in a pavilion. As time passed by devotion to the Madonna grew up and soon the little chapel was no more big enough to accomodate the great number of folowers; it was therefore necessary to build a large Sanctuary and that was made possible thanks to the generosity of the inhabitants of L'Ago and near-by villages.

The Madonna appears in front of the two girls; slate bas-relief, XIV century

It was the 13th of June 1875 when the miracolous picture could be placed over the present Main Altar of the new Sanctuary.


It is typical of the Sanctuary of R. a prodigy which has recurred since the time of the apparition, that is the blooming of the olive trees on the eve of Mary's Nativity. The exceptional phenomenon occurs every year on the 7th of September after the religious services in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it is recorded in some documents of the XVIII century kept in the notarial archives of Sarzana.



As any other sanctuary, also the Sanctuary of R. is a source of graces and miracles, some of which have been recorded in documents as well as passed on by tradition. For example, we can mention the episode of the Viceroy of Mexico, Count Fuenclava, who was saved by the Madonna of R. while he was striving against the aggression of some brigands on the road to Bracco during a dark night in 1748. Another extraordinary event is the one about the butler of the Archbishop of Genoa. One day in 1870 the butler forgot to give the Archbishop an olive twig in bloom which he had received by the Sanctuary's keeper. When, after several months, he opened up again the box with the twig inside, this had still fresh flowers as if it had been cut that very moment. Another piece of evidence of the Madonna's benevolence was gathered on the 30th of August 1823: that torrid summer day the men who were working to build the road leading to the Sanctuary ran out of wine; the Virgin felt pity for those tired and thirsty people and so she made the little wine left at the bottom of the barrel last forever and so the workers were able to go on drinking without fear. Among the many miraculous recoveries happened thanks to the Madonna of R. the case of Domenica Ferrari deserves to be remembered. She was a poor woman in L'Ago, compelled to stay in bed because of a broken leg. Since all attempts to heal the leg were useless, one day the poor woman took her crutches and hobbled to the Sanctuary with much fatigue and pain; when she came in front of the miracolous painting she started to pray with devotion and the leg immediately healed up.


Door of the wedding couple; Mismas 1994


At the beginning of the XX century the dream of the inhabitants of L'Ago came true, that is to say the Madonna's Coronation as Queen of Roverano. There was then a generous competition among the people of the various villages near-by to give money or jewels to buy the golden crown. On the 1st of September 1901 the feast in honour of Maria began and went on until the 8th, day of the Coronation.