Indulgence for He who Crosses the Threshold

By Luigi Copertino

As all Torricellans well know, a few kilometres from the village on the slope of a limestone spur there is the Church of the Madonna of the Rose Garden or of the Roses. Architecturally simple and very humble, as are all the Churches of the countryside and the mountain, it was erected in 1552, as is shown by the Latin inscription on the doorway which says: Hic domus Dei et porta coeli 15/Apr 1552 (Here is the doorway to heaven…).

The plaster has been restored many times and its only treasures are a beautiful picture of Christ on the Crucifix by an unknown artist of the 16th Century and a statue of the Madonna with the Holy Child of praiseworthy workmanship.

Usually seldom visited, the Sanctuary fills up with the faithful especially in the month of May which is dedicated to the Virgin. It is a place of pilgrimage on the last Tuesday of May and on each Saturday in May, when the parish priest celebrates mass there. Since, in the Catholic tradition, the Virgin is often associated with the "earth" or with "nature" and hence with agriculture, a long time ago in this month a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the entire village with umbrellas to obtain beneficent rain for the fields, was added to the worship of Mary. Some clues, moreover, lead us to believe that the Madonna of the Roses was the Sanctuary which arranged "indulgences[1]" for those who went on the pilgrimage, declared their sins and crossed the threshold at the entrance.

[1] Indulgences = the remission of punishment in purgatory, still due for sins even after sacramental absolution.

In the later Middle Ages there was considerable abuse within the Christian Church, such as unrestricted sale of indulgences by professional pardoners.

Martin Luther attacked this practice and this led to the Reformation.

Nowadays in the Catholic Church the granting of indulgences is normally only carried out by the Pope.

© Amici di Torricella

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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