Like most – if not all – Italian towns and villages, the port city of Messina, the entranceway to Sicilian civilization, is blessed with a patron saint.

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.

Stay tuned for more fun facts and interesting tidbits from our northern Sicilian tour…coming soon!
9 Responses
  1. pat

    Ma quante bella e’ a’ Maronna! Who could ask for any greater a mother?You should hit the shrine to Madonna di Tindari in Patti. It’s very close to Messina.

  2. j

    So who is CZ’s patron saint, and does everyone celebrate that saint’s day? And is there a patron saint for B&B’s? Probably not St. Francis. Did you ever see his bed? It’s carved out of a rock. That’s not like your B&B is it?

  3. Cherrye

    Pat – we did, we did…patience, my friend!

    J – Saint Vitaliano is the Patron Saint of CZ, but the neighborhoods have Patron Saints, too. (It seems to mostly be Santa Maria in the neighborhoods I am thinking of.)

    In smaller villages and in the neighborhoods, the towns celebrate the Saint Day. They usually carry the saint’s statue throughout the town, and make a processional. Not so much in the cities, sadly, because I’d love to see it.

    I don’t know if there is a Patron Saint for B&Bs, but I am going to ask Pep right away! There should be! We did, however, have our priest come bless our B&B. You can all stay here safely now! 🙂

    And, btw – no rock beds. 🙁 If we did that, it would be very neat, but we’d need to invest in some super soft mattresses! ha

    Arlene – YOUR move is getting so close. Maybe you can make our next trip with us.

  4. marina

    just found your site and love it how I wish I was 20 something and travling like you are I have always wanted to vist Italy however don’t know if I ever will but at lest I can see it through your eye’s!! Hav fun!!marina

  5. Cherrye

    Yes, Michelle, she was. She even blessed us on our way out!

    Hi, Marina! Thanks for stopping by. You should check out prices for visiting Italy – it might be more affordable than you think!

  6. Cher & Gene Klosner

    What a rich history…the more I’m seeing here, the more I want to visit – hey, and your Bed and Breakfast pics are fantastic too!! (on your link)
    Cher –

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