Among the places of the Madonna of Constantinople in Calabria

The cult of the Madonna of Constantinople in Papasidero and Rende, two sanctuaries to visit
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© Regione Calabria

Sites of faith

Feb 14, 2024 10:19 AM

Among the most heartfelt religious festivities in Calabria is the one dedicated to the Madonna of Constantinople. We set out to discover the Shrine of the Madonna di Costantinopoli in Papasidero and Rende, two important places of faith in the province of Cosenza.

The title of St Mary of Constantinople (or Our Lady of Constantinople) refers to the arrival in the West of sacred oriental icons depicting the Virgin, introduced by Byzantine monks fleeing Byzantium (Constantinople) because of the iconoclastic persecutions.

Two of these sacred effigies are located in as many shrines in the province of Cosenza and, every year, on the feast of St Mary of Constantinople (held on 20 February), they are the protagonists of pilgrimages and events.

Shrine of the Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Papasidero

The Shrine of the Madonna di Costantinopoli in Papasidero is set in a place of great natural, as well as spiritual, beauty, perfect for those who wish to combine a hike in the countryside with religious meditation.

The church dedicated to Our Lady of Constantinople dates back to the 17th century and stands on the banks of the Lao River, the same waterway that rafting and canoeing enthusiasts frequent for adrenalin-fuelled descents down rapids.

The Shrine of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli is literally carved into the rock face, accessible by a stepped path and a bridge connecting the two banks. The present Church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli stands on the remains of the previous medieval one and contains a fresco of the Madonna of Constantinople in the company of the Archangel Michael. A gem? The ancient organ in the nave.

If you are wondering what to see in Papasidero on the occasion of a visit to the shrine, the must-see suggestion is the Romito Cave, one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe (9010-9200 BC), known for the discovery of several burials and a graffito depicting the so-called Bos Primigenius.

Santuario di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli - Papasidero
Regione Calabria

Shrine of the Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Rende

Devotion to Our Lady of Constantinople characterises another important shrine in the province of Cosenza: the Shrine of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Rende.

According to tradition, the cult of Our Lady of Constantinople in Rende Paese (or Rende Vecchio, old town) dates back to the plague of 1656, when the people of Rende bought the statue of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in the nearby village of San Fili. Destroyed in the 18th century, the church was rebuilt in its present form, also recovering the ancient icon of the Lady.

The Madonna Odigitria (with Blessing Child) greets the faithful against a copper background, very unusual compared to the usual iconography, so much so that critics call it a "stain", i.e. a small, imprecise sketch, an instantaneous creation of the imagination.

On the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Constantinople, the historic centre of Rende comes alive with believers following the procession and art-loving visitors who take the opportunity to visit the "Borgo dei Musei".

In addition to the Shrine of the Madonna di Costantinopoli, the historic centre of Rende has several artistic sites to visit: from the Norman Castle (home to the "Bilotti" Museum of Contemporary Art) to the Cathedral, from the Church of the Rosario to Palazzo Bucarelli.

Santuario di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli Rende
ViaggiArt

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