Wonder  }  Place of worship

Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Grace

A shrine from the late 14th century, rich in votive offerings, located in a park overlooking the Mincio River

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Where is


46010 Grazie MN, Italia (0m s.l.m.)


The Shrine of Grace

When you arrive in front of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Grace, you are little impressed by a facade that, apart from a beautiful portico, is quite plain. Perhaps we are here because we were attracted by its history: the Gothic-style church was built in the late 1300s by Francesco Gonzaga as a votive offering to Our Lady of Grace for the end of the plague. Or maybe we got this far because we heard about some things so strange and curious that we couldn't resist and came to check it out.

Why is the Shrine of Grace special? A journey into the unexpected

Past the door we were not disappointed: the interior is a real surprise because of the wooden scaffolding that covers it almost entirely. It is populated with life-size wooden statues covered with chalked and painted canvas. They represent distinguished visitors but also miraculous people, who have escaped all kinds of misfortunes, from those who fell into a well to those who survived hanging. One can almost compete to find the strangest pose!

More surprises not to be missed

But the surprises are not over: advancing into the nave, in one of the side chapels is the burial place of Baldassar Castiglioni, the author of the Cortegiano, a work by Giulio Romano. In the sacristy are collected many drawings and paintings, all ex votos of the locals. And finally, something one would never expect in a shrine: a curious stuffed crocodile hangs in front of the front door. Who knows how it got there.

Behind the shrine: Lake Superior

At the beginning of our visit we quickly passed the facade. But after visiting the church and going back under the outside porch, it is worth following it along its right side and going through the archway leading to the back of the Sanctuary. And there a wonderful landscape opens up on Lake Superior formed by the Mincio and populated with water lilies.

Fun fact: the Madonnari festival.

On the churchyard every mid-August the Fiera delle Grazie takes place, with stalls, merry-go-rounds, and fireworks; Madonnari from all over the world gather here, covering the huge square with works that then wear away, leaving faint traces still visible after months. On a building in front of the church, photos of the square covered with chalk drawings can be seen.

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Patrizia Iome

Incredible life-size statues, a piece of pop culture. Beautiful location on the lake.


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