Madonna of the Roses – Sanctuary to be restored

By Marisa Grifone

That Madonna with her lips painted red, detached, serious, holding her child with features not well defined, which almost merge with the shining drapes of the mother’s clothes; well that Madonna represents a place.

Place of consolation and refuge from anxieties and hopes of the pilgrims; a mystical place, a physical place, significant emblem of the sacredness of our mountain.

The Sanctuary looks like a poor building, of mixed materials, the stones taken from the meadow, the style has nothing refined about it; and yet it conserves the significance of temple ritual that for its definition (place of cult) has preserved through the various ages different dimensions, proportions and materials from those used for civilian habitations. Whilst the solemn statue is immobile watching the silence surrounding her from her podium, those walls that are born of the rocks make a defensive wall around her or which settle on the rocks without being remodeled.

The outside has no characteristics of a monument, only the curved centre of the upper part of the façade that allows it to link up elegantly with the bell tower. The bodies adjoining the portico of its churchyard and the forecourt of the place of the hermitage do not break up the volume that preserves the whole; it sets down carefully on its back, accompanying the movement pf the mountain. The inside looks like a curious ensemble of various materials, where the search for decorating to the bitter end is justified by the wish to give honour way beyond the materials used.

Amongst the added bodies an alien object appears that is functional, the building of the platform for the orchestra, made of cement blocks. The need to restore suggests an occasion for sorting out the outside, simply, which can be adapted with dignity to the meaning of the place. Other more fundamental motives for specific works of restoration subordinated to the usual procedure linked with this discipline will be listed only after having identified and measured precisely the parts that have deteriorated.

After an investigation into the history of the origins and vicissitudes of the Sanctuary which should not exclude conjectures and legends one must then pass to a metric survey of the complex in its present state.

To this end one could consider the importance of the Sanctuary of Madonna of the Roses as a pilot programme, part of a much larger project of intervention and the proposal to restore the relevant and important historic buildings of our area. That is one could experiment with methods for the survey and graphic restoration as yet little used in Abruzzo but which is really effective, as is shown by the bold reliefs of the Coliseum in Rome and other ancient monuments. Here we refer to the photogram metric method of relief. This is based on the principle of trilateralization obtained by aiming at the subject using the lens of a special camera or of a normal reflex camera, from two or more points of view. This guarantees precision of the results and in fact decreases the usual margins of error needed with more empirical methods. This work could be carried out in agreement with the Departments of Representation and Relief and of Static Consolidation of the Universities of L’Aquila and of Pescara. These Departments have at their disposal the instruments and the workforce necessary to carry out this work. Involvement of a Public Body without a doubt would give a cultural breath of ample proportions to the initiative launched by our Association and at the same time would restrict the costs to be born.

The Government Department should be involved in the project since it is the Institution to which the list would be sent of so-called minor monuments, once surveyed, spread throughout our territory or hidden within the urban tissue of the towns characterizing the "Genius Loci" of our land. It is known, in fact, that the funds to cover the expenses of restoration are put into the budget only after a list of priorities for intervention has been made, on the basis of the urgency and the historic value to the villages of the monuments.

In the light of all this and from the state of compromise given to the Sanctuary which denounced static subsidence and suffered from alien materials used in previous restorations, we propose:

rapidly getting in touch with:

  • the Department of Representation and Relief;
  • the Department for Consolidation;
  • the Government Department of Monuments;

historical research; photogram metric survey; graphic restitution; restoration proposals; choice of materials and calculated metric evaluation.

© Amici di Torricella

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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