Alberto Belli

Alberto Belli

CEO and Content Creator of Bologna-Experience

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Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano

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Do you want to know the history and curiosities of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano? Come and discover them with us!

In Piazza del Baraccano in Bologna, in the area of Porta Santo Stefano, you will come across a beautiful church of the fifteenth century: it is the church of Santa Maria della Pace del Baraccano. 

The church was built in 1403 in order to preserve a fresco of the Madonna and Child painted by Lippo di Dalmasio on a city wall from time and climate events.

It takes its name from the “Barbacane”, the defensive tower located at the entrance of Porta Santo Stefano, which comes from a small temple-shaped building called “edicola” and erected in 1401 to protect the painting of the “Madonna with child”.

Interventions at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano in time

One of the first interventions took place in 1420 at the behest of Giovanni Bentivoglio who converted the “edicola” into an octagonal chapel. Later on, the oratory and a hospice for pilgrims were built and, half a century later, the famous portico with three arches was built.

In the 15th century (1401-1500 AD), after the exile of the Bentivoglio family and under the papacy, the most important works began, which made the building wider. Thanks to these interventions, which lasted from 1524 to 1600, the current appearance of the sanctuary took shape.

The Madonna of Santa Maria del Baraccano is also called the “Madonna of Peace” for the painting depicting the Virgin with Child painted by Lippo di Dalmasio.

In 1914, finally, the last restoration by Alfonso Rubbiani of the church began. He restored its appearance, eliminating the part of the Baroque period and putting in its place terracotta elements to adapt it to the style of the church. After these last interventions, the church was proclaimed a national monument. 

Let’s discover the chapels of Santa Maria del Baraccano!

The chapels of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano

Inside the Orsi chapel we can admire the Virgin with Child and Saint Joseph and Saint Joachim of Lavinia Fontana. The main altar of the church houses the ancient painting of the Madonna del Baraccano, restored in 1472 by Francesco Cossa. Currently this work is not exhibited and can only be admired on exceptional occasions. 

Among the arches of the portico there are four of the most visited statues of the sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano, depicting the four patrons of Bologna: San Petronio, San Domenico, San Procolo and San Francesco.

If you want to know more about the history of the Patron of Bologna San Petronio, read also Everything you need to know about the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna.

Other curiosities to discover

In ancient times, it is said that the inhabitants of Bologna on summer evenings spent leisure time on the lawn inside the walls. For this reason, the image of the Madonna was painted to encourage people to gather in prayer, rather than having fun and singing. Today the Madonna of Baraccano is also visited by the young spouses who, after the religious marriage, go there to receive the blessing.

Do you want to know why Santa Maria del Baraccano is called Sanctuary? Keep reading!

Why is the Church of Santa Maria del Baraccano called Sanctuary?

A church is defined as a  “Sanctuary” when it has sacred elements inside or when it has been the site of miraculous events. The church of Santa Maria del Baraccano is called Sanctuary because, between the end of the 14th century (1301-1400 d.C) and the beginning of the 15th century (1401-1500 AD), several miraculous events took place. They were attributed to the Madonna of Baraccano: from that moment it was called Sanctuary.

Discover with us what to see near the Madonna of Baraccano!

What to see near the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano

Near the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano there are several places to visit. With an area of 26 hectares, the Margherita Gardens are one of the largest parks in Bologna, where you can relax in the middle of nature.

A few steps away you will find Porta Santo Stefano and Porta Castiglione, two ancient historic gates that were part of the old Bolognese walls. Finally, 8 minutes walk away, you can find the Civic Museum of the Risorgimento.

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