We are in the heart of Calabria. Nestled within the rugged beauty of the Pollino National Park, lies the quaint town of Orsomarso. A place where time seems to stand still, and where the echoes of history reverberate through the narrow cobblestone streets. Among its many treasures, one stands out – the cave of Our Lady of Lourdes. A natural sanctuary that has become a beacon of faith and a magnet for tourists from all corners of the globe.
The statue of the Madonna of Lourdes: a masterpiece carved from stone
In the depths of this cave, shrouded in an aura of reverence and tranquility, stands a majestic statue of the Madonna of Lourdes. This isn’t just any statue, but a masterpiece meticulously crafted by the renowned Vicenza sculptor, Plinio Frigo. Using a special stone extracted from the heart of the Iberian mountains, Frigo breathed life into a block of rock, transforming it into an embodiment of divine grace.
The statue, standing tall at approximately 3 meters and weighing a hefty 15 quintals, is a testament to the apparitions of Lourdes. It was placed in the cave in October 1958, a century after the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. This initiative was spearheaded by the then Bishop of Cassano allo Ionio, Monsignor Raffaele Barbieri, who saw it as a fitting tribute to the centenary of the apparitions.
The installation of the statue: a feat of engineering and determination
The journey of the statue from the sculptor’s studio to its final resting place in the cave was no less than an epic saga. It was a task that required not just physical strength, but also ingenuity, determination, and a touch of audacity. Enter Vittorio Paulon, a man from the Argentino company, known for his expertise in engineering feats.
Paulon, along with a team of ten skilled workers from Veneto and Orsomarso, undertook the daunting task of constructing a 200-meter-long cable car arm. This contraption was designed to transport the massive statue from the town’s main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, to the cave. The operation was fraught with challenges, from finding a suitable anchor point in the town to ensuring the stability of the cable car arm. But Paulon and his team persevered, overcoming each hurdle with grit and ingenuity.
The Cave today: a Beacon of Faith and a tourist magnet
Today, the cave of the Madonna of Lourdes stands as a proud symbol of Orsomarso. It’s not just a place of worship, but also a testament to the town’s rich history and indomitable spirit. The statue, with its serene gaze, seems to watch over the town, offering comfort and solace to all who seek it.
The cave has also become a major tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors each year. They come from far and wide, drawn by the allure of the statue and the natural beauty of the cave. The sight of the Madonna, bathed in the soft glow of the cave, leaves an indelible impression on all who witness it.
The enduring legacy of the cave and the statue
The cave of Our Lady of Lourdes and its statue are more than just landmarks in Orsomarso. They are threads in the rich tapestry of the town’s cultural and religious identity. They stand as a testament to the town’s resilience, its deep-rooted faith, and its commitment to preserving its heritage. They are a symbol of the town’s past, a beacon for its present, and a legacy for its future generations.
The story of the statue’s journey to the cave is a tale of human ingenuity and determination. It’s a reminder that even the most daunting challenges can be overcome with perseverance and teamwork. It’s a testament to the spirit of Orsomarso, a spirit that continues to thrive in the hearts of its residents.
The cave of Our Lady of Lourdes is not just a place of worship, but a living, breathing part of Orsomarso. It’s a place where faith and nature intertwine, creating a sanctuary of tranquility and reverence. It’s a place that invites reflection, inspires awe, and kindles a sense of wonder.
The cave of Our Lady of Lourdes and its statue are more than just symbols. They are the heart and soul of Orsomarso, embodying the town’s past, reflecting its present, and inspiring its future. They are a testament to the enduring power of faith, the resilience of the human spirit, and the timeless allure of art and nature.