The Parco di Montovolo e Monte Vigese is at 912m above sea level and the sanctuary can be found on a plateau connecting the two peaks.
In Etruscan times there was a temple here dedicated to the goddess Pales.
In about 1000 the plateau took the name of Mount Ovolo, because of its egg shape and the first Christian church was built.
The building seen today dates back to 1211 as inscribed in the lunette above the entrance.
The Romanesque style makes it unmistakable: a nave, a wooden trussed ceiling, whose arcane simplicity is the distinctive element of the sacred place so dear to the metropolitan canons who, as early as 1045, climbed this mountain to create a connection lasting many centuries between the Montovolo sanctuary and the cathedral of San Pietro in Bologna.
The bell tower dates back to 1838 and the sundial is still in working order.
Above the high altar there is the sacred image of the Blessed Virgin and Child, a large wood sculpture dating back to the fifteenth century.
The sacred image of Our Lady hidden in the Sterpi oratory at the foot of the mountain managed to escape destruction during the Second World War and was returned to its site after the conflict ended.
The most interesting part, brought to light around 1925, is undoubtedly the crypt, a significant testimony of the original church, over which the next building was erected.
Given sanctuary status in 1925, the church has its own unique charm thanks to the refurbishment that brought to light the original style.
Since 1950, the statue of the Virgin Mary has been taken on a pilgrimage to nearby sites every twentyfive years to give blessing to local communities.
A few steps above the sanctuary stands the small but captivating Santa Caterina dall’Alessandria d’Egitto oratory and for this reason, Montovolo is also known as the “Sinai of Bologna”.
Its construction, dating back to the early thirteenth century, was the result of the ex-voto expressed by a group of Bologna crusaders returning from Damietta.
The interior is a real surprise with frescoes dating back to the 1400s.
These two places of faith are closely connected to each other and immersed in uncontaminated nature.
VIA MATER DEI The Camino of the Marian Sanctuaries of the Bolognese Apennines
Foiatonda Cooperativa di comunità
Via della Libertà, 2 - Madonna dei Fornelli
40048 San Benedetto Val di Sambro (BO)