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For Their Own Devotion
A Madonnina at Fontevecchia di Giano

[image ALT: A deep barrel-arched niche in a stuccoed wall, at the back of which a somewhat damaged painting; in front of it, on the stone shelf forming the niche, three small potted plants. It is an 18c roadside shrine, or madonnina, a few hundred meters from Giano dell' Umbria (central Italy).]

About half a kilometer out of Giano on the road north to Fabbri and Montefalco, as you round a bend, you come to this little niche: a wayside shrine to the Virgin Mary, one of thousands that dot the Italian countryside. Fresh flowers, as almost always, but at first glance, this madonnina, or little Madonna, just looks a bit ruined; a few steps closer though, and we see that by good fortune or maybe extra care, the Mother and Child have survived well, better than the two saints who stand beside her: St. Anthony of Padua with his lily, and, according to the Edicole Sacre site, St. Joseph of Copertino.

[image ALT: A somewhat faded fresco of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child. It is a detail of a roadside shrine to the Madonna at Fontevecchia, a few hundred meters north of Giano dell' Umbria (central Italy).]

Jesus blesses us with his right hand; his mother — her face clearly painted by someone who had seen the Delphic Sibyl in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel — lets him have her rosary: beads for a child, but also of course a characteristic instrument of Marian piety.

At the bottom of the fresco, behind the plants and flowers, a date, writ large, is about the only immediately readable part of an inscription; the rest may be hard to decipher, but at least it too has survived. Far clearer than the actual photograph I took is this false-color:

[image ALT: A much worn inscription on a roadside shrine to the Madonnaa few hundred meters from Giano dell' Umbria (central Italy); it is transcribed and translated on this webpage]

A D 1756

Salvatore and Giovanni Machari
had this holy image made
for their own devotion
A D 1756.

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Page updated: 12 Sep 14