Bicycle Diaries: Madonna del Ghisallo

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Madonna del Ghisallo

the Patron Saint of Bikers

She's also known as Our Lady of Ghisallo and the Madonna of Ghisallo. Medieval legend says that Count Ghisallo was traveling near the village of Magréglio. There he was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting a image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, or perhaps hid behind it, pled for Our Lady's protection. He was miraculously saved from the robbers. As the story spread, the Madonna del Ghisallo became known as patroness of local travelers.

From the late 19th century onward, bikers would often stop to rest and pray at the chapel. It's also at the top of a really steep hill. The Passo del Ghisallo is situated in Lombardy. Starting from Bellagio, the Passo del Ghisallo is 10,6 km long. Over this distance, you climb 552 height meters. The average percentage is thus 5.2 %.

After WW II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine, proposed Ghisallo as the site of an Italian biker shrine. On 13 October 1949, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the patroness of bikers. The chapel is now equal part religious shrine, part biking museum, with artifacts and photos. It has grown in importance over the years and is now a fixture on the route of many races, gran fondos, and rides.

There is an eternal flame that burns there in memory of the cyclists of are no longer with us, and services each Christmas Eve and the Feast of All Souls commemorate them.

This huge bronze sculpture commemorates the fallen cyclist, and the other reaching for the heavens.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've given me a possible future vacation destination. Now I just have to find a way to ride my adult tricycle there.

I suppose I could just make her a part of my rosary instead:

Cullen Carter

18/4/10 11:41  
Blogger Cully_J said...

Luckily I found your site after doing some web research about St. Madonna del Ghisallo. After looking at your other posts I'm definitely going to stop in often.

Are you still blogging?

Cullen Carter
Appleton, WI

18/4/10 13:12  
Blogger Da' Square Wheelman, said...

Thanks for both of your comments! I've taken a little hiatus due to health issues and a new bike restoration which has become the transportation version of the Money Pit %-{)>

18/4/10 14:58  

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