Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Milizie
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Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Milizie

The hermitage and the church of the Militias are one of the places most linked to a religious tradition of a sacred event, which was alive for many centuries in the culture of Scicli.
The complex is located in the Giammarito district, two kilometers from Donnalucata, on a slight hillside in a panoramic place.
Tradition and various texts of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries recall in that place a hypothetical battle that took place in 1091 between Normans and Saracens, won by the former for the providential intervention of the Virgin who appeared, according to some, in the sky on a cloud, according to others on a White horse.
At the moment of the formation of the cult relating to the Madonna delle Milizie, there are currently no reliable documents. In that place Carioti remembers before 1091 a pagan sacred building dedicated to Bacchus Milicius, from which the term “Milizie” derives.
At present we have no elements to confirm the thesis of Carioti, we certainly know that the place was inhabited by hermits in the seventeenth century. Mariano Perello, one of the most qualified intellectuals in the seventeenth century Scicli was buried there; The Franciscan friar Giorgio Lutri lived there, indicated as a saint and only in the following centuries was there a particular devotion to the Madonna delle Milizie.
Currently the architectural complex records various construction phases ranging from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The eighteenth-century phase in which the church and some parts of the convent were rebuilt is decisive.
The church consists of a rectangular room with a square apse covered by a hemispherical dome and with a rectangular entrance hall. Of the previous structures, the bell tower, located in the left corner of the narthex, of uncertain dating, and the apse chapel remained. In the reconstruction of the eleven altars of the seventeenth-century church, eight were built.
The stone sculpture of the Madonna dei Miracoli was located in the chapel in front of the entrance portal.
The internal stuccos were carried out by the master Simeone Messina of Scordia between 1721 and 1722, paying particular attention to the apse altar framed by two angels. The interesting canvas by the Roman painter Francesco Pascucci was certainly placed on the altar in 1780, transported around 1920 to the Chisa Madre. The main altar was covered in 1798 with polychrome marbles made by the sculptor Don Giovanni Marino from Catania.
The parts of the hermitage that unfold starting from the short side of the church refer to the eighteenth century, the century in which, at the suggestion of the sergeant major Domenico Serraton, work began for the construction of some rooms for hermits and strangers.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was frequented as a place of pilgrimage and annually a procession brought the faithful of the city to the hermitage; this procession ceased around 1860.
With the law of suppression of ecclesiastical property the hermits were expelled and the hermitage fell into complete abandonment. In 1892 it was bought by the Friars Minor and restorations began, bringing back some paintings, including that of Pascucci.
Over the years the complex has undergone a series of transformations and in 1915 it was bought by the administration of the pious Pietro Di Lorenzo Busacca to make it a tubercularsarium, immediately afterwards it was sold in lots to several private individuals.
As for the church, owned by the curia, it remained abandoned. Only recently the parish priest of Donnalucata has been concerned with its protection. . (Text source: Site of the Municipality of Scicli)

The church and the convent are bound in accordance with Legislative Decree 42/2004 

Download the Convent's bond decree: 

DDS n. 2761 of 16.12.2011/XNUMX/XNUMX


Binding decree of the Militia church: DDS n. 1928 of 19/10/2011

The site is part of the Places of the Marian cult included in the Register of the Region of Sicily LIM (Places of Memory - Places of the sacred)

  • Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Milizie in Donnalucata (Scicli, Ragusa), cult linked to the apparition and intervention of the Madonna in the 1091 battle of Ruggero di Altavilla against the Saracens


Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Information contributions: Web, Region of Sicily, Site of the Municipality of Scicli

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