The story goes that in 1740 a pilgrim, on his way to Rome, was attacked by a pack of wild dogs. He was near the tower and he saw the fresco and called out to the Virgin for help. Immediately the dogs calmed down and retreated into the surrounding countryside.
Within five years this "miraculous" fresco had been removed from the tower and placed in a small church built nearby and became this became the shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.
Above: The exterior of the 18th century shrine.
Below: The interior of the shrine church with the fresco on display.Starting in January of 1944, with Rome in danger because of World War II, the image of the Virgin was taken to different churches in the city. On June 4th the fresco's last stop was in the Church of Sant' Ignazio. Hundreds of Romans gathered to pray for the liberation of their city, and the people made a vow to the Virgin to renew their lives, build a new shrine, and perform charitable works in honor of Our Lady of Divine Love.
One week later, Pope Pius XII led a journey outside of Rome to the holy image to express gratitude for saving the city. Within ten years, orphans were being cared for in a convent next to he shrine church. Mission centers were started in many parts of Italy and others were opened around the world, the most recent (2000 )in Nicaragua. The new shrine was eventually built and dedicated by Pope John Paul II in 1999.
This view of the new shrine also shows
the original church on the hill above.
The new sanctuary was designed by the
Franciscan priest Constantino Ruggeri from Pavia.
Cardinal Ugo Poletti, Vicar General of Rome from 1973 to 1991, said:
"Brother Constantino does not build with cement but with light!"
On the opposite side of the building from the altar, there is a separate room with this monumental tabernacle and exposed Sacrament for Eucharistic adoration.
This is a view of the grass covered roof of the new sanctuary, which blends in with the hills of the Roman countryside. On the left you can also see the location of the original tower with a copy of the fresco.
I found it interesting that the original fresco has remained in the small 18th century church building. The new sanctuary has a contemporary representation of the fresco so it is not drawing attention to the paint and plaster of the original fresco, but instead brings one into a space for reflecting on Divine Love!