Friday, September 24, 2010

La chiesetta di Lalla Pina

Grandmom Rosaio was proud of her chiesetta, the little “church” she had built in the yard next to her house where she displayed statues of the Blessed Mother and her favorite saints. It was another tradition she brought with her from her hometown of Giusvalla, where le chiesette dot the countryside .... little “churches” that were erected by Giusvallini families to honor Our Lady or a saint to whom they had a particular devotion. Some of the chiesette were large enough to accommodate a small altar with a few pews. La Chiesetta della Madonna del Deserto (loc. Mulino), la Chiesetta della Madonna della Guardia (loc. Riondi) and la Chiesetta del Bambin di Praga (loc. Ciocchini) are the largest of the chiesette, each big enough on its own to resemble a small church. Others (loc. Caporali, Pimpiri, Zambon, etc.) were no bigger than a refrigerator box, with an opening where a statue and some candles could be placed and a stone at the base of the structure to kneel on.

Each chiesetta carries its own history, often intertwined with the history of a particular family in Giusvalla. The history of the chiesetta devoted to Our Lady of the Desert at località Mulino begins in the early 1910s with a man named Carlo Marenco who made a special promise to the Blessed Mother. Carlo’s son had been injured when a sharp piece of metal cut a deep gash into his leg. The leg became infected, and it appeared likely that the leg would have to be amputated. Carlo’s vow to the Blessed Mother was that if through her intercession his son’s leg healed and was spared amputation, he would build a chapel that he and all his descendants would maintain in her honor. And so when his son’s leg healed in spite of the doctor’s dire prediction, Carlo made good on his promise and the Chiesetta della Madonna del Deserto was built – and is maintained by Carlo’s descendants to this day.

Grandmom’s chiesetta was quite modest compared to Carlo Marenco’s grand chapel at Mulino. But we all knew her devotion to the little church in her yard, and the marvelous sight of the pious convocation of the Blessed Mother, the Infant of Prague and Grandmom’s favorite saints – St. Anthony of Padua, St. Joseph and St. Jude – is something we all remember with great fondness.

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