For Messina, Madonna della Lettera, is that saint.
Standing boldly and shining like a beacon (in all of her gold-toned glory) Madonna of the Letter is the first sight many visitors see as they approach Messina, via ferry, from Calabria.
It was the first thing we saw, for sure! And, how could we not? She reaches six meters – nearly 20 feet – into the air.
What we did not see, due to the view-destructing scaffolding surrounding the statue, was the inscription “Vos et ipsam civitatem benedicimus,” or “We bless you and your city.”
According to popular legend, the Virgin Mary presented a letter to Messina residents who visited her in Palestine in 42 AD, congratulating the city on their Christian conversion. The letter is said to be in safe keeping inside one of Messina’s churches, but a translation of the letter can be found here.
Madonna della Lettura was unveiled in 1934 when Pope Pius XI who, using a remote control device created by Gugliemo Marconi, illuminated the statue from the Vatican City.