Altare Mater Pacis

“… A prayer for the dead of all wars”. This is written on the commemorative plaque on the Mater Pacis Altar, on top of the hill of Monte Calvo di Rastignano.

Here the 360-degree panorama embraces the Po Valley to the north with the Alps and the Adriatic Sea in the background, and the entire Tuscan-Emilian Apennine arc to the south, between the Shrine of the Beata Vergine di San Luca to the west and the Shrine of the Madonna del Monte delle Formtiche to the east. The view dominates the Savena Valley and the Contrafforte Pliocenico, right where the Second World War ‘Winter Line’ was. A part of the more famous Gothic Line, place of fierce fighting and bombing for the entire winter between 1944 and 1945: there were so many, that Pianoro earned the nickname of ‘Montecassino del Nord’ while the 98% of the buildings was completely destroyed.

An altar was placed in this extraordinary place, a stone brought from the nearby quarries of the Parco dei Gessi, to commemorate the dead of all wars, to entrust ourselves to Virgin Mary protection, She, the Mother of Him who "is our Peace" (Eph 2:14). This place was consecrated by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, on June 29 2020: it is the culminating point of the second leg of the Via Mater Dei and inspires the walker and pilgrim to reflect and pray, so that the heart of man, free from war barbarism, can harmonize with the beauty of nature and learn to gaze at the Sky first, and then look to the brother, with that maternal love which is always a source of life and never of hate and destruction.

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