The Shrine of Madonna delle Grazie in San Giovanni di Gerace
The Shrine of Madonna delle Grazie in San Giovanni di Gerace is one of the main religious buildings dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Locride area. The existing building was erected in the 19th century, though there are evidences that religious structures have existed in the area since the 10th century. A centuries-old history and the one thousand-year long special devotion have characterized the Shrine and the town of San Giovanni di Gerace, and they made the Marian Church one of the main places of worship dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Diocese of Locri-Gerace, in the Province of Reggio Calabria and the entire region. It became a “Major Shrine” and recognized as a place where people have always been particularly devoted to the Virgin Mary. The Shrine of San Giovanni di Gerace has a great religious, historical and artistic importance. It is a very important Marian Church that keeps remarkable historical, cultural and artistic evidences, and greets faithful pilgrims from all around Calabria.
A remarkable art work can be admired inside the church. It is a Neapolitan school wooden sculpted group of Our Lady of Graces with Child and a crowd of angels, dating back to 1760. The venerated statue has been the object of detailed scientific studies. Moreover, the Marian Shrine in San Giovanni is the destination of many pilgrims who arrive there on foot; for this reason, the church was included among the Calabrian “pilgrim routes”, that have experienced a cultural revival during the last decades. Another peculiarity of the Shrine of Madonna delle Grazie is that it is a publicly-owned church run by the Municipality. In fact, the sole property of the church was given to the Municipality by an ancient privilege dated 1649, and town administrators run and maintain the place through a joint committee with representatives of the Municipality and the Diocese. The Shrine estate also includes the “Villa Maria Santissima delle Grazie”, a building that is used to house the pilgrims and to host the meetings of the local congregation.