A statue of the Madonna and Child is venerated in this place of pilgrimage.
When the Turks invaded the region in 1545, the priest wanted to protect the statue from the Turks' profanations and immured it under the choir of the church. But the priest died before telling anyone what he had done. His successor, who was unaware of the hiding-place, saw one day a strange light coming from the choir in the church. He dug and found the statue.
In 1650, the Turks invaded this area again. Once more, a priest immured the statue, which was left untouched until 1684, when another priest had the vision of a woman holding a candle and asking him to "pray with all the faithful so that I can see the light of day again." The priest found the statue, people came to pray at the church and many miracles occurred.
Between 1688 and 1786, 1109 wonders were recorded. The shrine was enlarged and dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows on July 13, 1731. The city was then called "Maria Bistrica." Following a fire in 1880, the church had to be entirely rebuilt. In 1923, the church became a minor basilica, and the bishops declared it a national shrine.
In 1935, a votive pilgrimage gathered a large crowd that promised the Virgin to remain faithful to her "as long as our brooks continue to murmur... as long as our meadows still become green... as long as we can smell the perfume of the flowers of our fatherland."
Attilio Galli, Madre della Chiesa dei Cinque continenti,
Ed. Segno, Udine, 1997, p. 67-76.