Lavasina (Corsica): Our Lady of Graces

The Lourdes of Corsica

A very nice surprise ...

The Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, in Lavasina, is on a small hill in the north of the “Island of Beauty,” not far from Bastia. This sacred place has sometimes been called the Lourdes of Corsica.

The story begins in the 16th century: a family of sailors, the Daneses, was trading wine between Rome and Corsica. A client from Rome, temporarily insolvent and owing money to the Danese family, offered to settle his debt by sending a painting of the Virgin Mary.

In the case containing the painting, inexplicably, the Danese also found the exact sum that he owed, in cash!

A chapel

This prodigious fact struck many minds and the Daneses decided then to use this miraculous sum to build a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin, in which the painting was installed. The painting represents the Virgin kneeling as she kisses the Child and covers him with her veil. In the background are her cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist as a child and St Joseph.

The first famous miracle of Our Lady of Lavasina took place in 1675—a nun from Bonifacio, Sister Marie Agnès, aged 40, had been paralyzed in both legs for years, when she decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces in Lavasina. She was transported there, and after having prayed, had her legs anointed with the oil from the lamp burning near the painting of the Virgin. It was then that the miracle occurred—the nun got up and began to walk, to the every one’s astonishment!

A large church

In 1675, the local bishop decided to build a large church to replace the initial chapel.

In 1859, the Franciscans were invited to become the guardians of the shrine, and a convent was built for them next to the church of Our Lady of Graces. In  1952, the Virgin of Lavasina was solemnly crowned.

Since the first miracle of 1675, the walls of the shrine have been covered with ex-votos left by the faithful in thanksgiving for the innumerable graces and miracles obtained through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

September 8th

The most special Marian feast in Lavasina takes place on the 8th of September. On that day the people sing the Corsican hymn to the Virgin:

"Hail, Queen and Universal Mother whose favor leads us to Paradise!  ...

Before you our distressed hearts sigh and moan, in an ocean of pain and bitterness.

Open for us who suffer the folds of your holy veil, and show us your Son in heaven.

Give us the victory over all our enemies, and then, the eternal glory in Paradise!"

The Franciscans and the parish church

In 1903, the law of expulsion of "unauthorized congregations" interrupted the presence of the Franciscans for 10 years. On October 4, 1913, as the political climate was becoming less sectarian, the bishop of Ajaccio, Bishop Desanti, called back the Franciscans to the care of the shrine.

Finally, in 1938, to avoid a future expulsion, Bishop Rodié established the shrine as a parish church, serving the territories of Lavasina and Miomo, and its chaplain received the title of parish priest, which made him irremovable.

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Source: Lavasina - Official website of the Shrine