giovedì 11 novembre 2010

Santuario Adonai Informazioni in Inglese


The Sanctuary of Saint Mary Mater Adonai can be found near Brucoli, a few metres from the sea, mirroring itself in the waters of the Gulf of Catania, in the northern part of the province, in the Diocese of Siracusa.
According to ancient traditions and testimonies taken from the writings of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Sanctuary seems to have been a paleo-christian oratory and one of the very first churches dedicated to St. Mary which can be confirmed by its Jewish name of “Mater Adonai”(= Mother of my God). It is definitely the oldest sanctuary dedicated to St. Mary in Sicily and perhaps even in the western Christian world. A Christian presence in this area has been

documented since the year 253 of the Christian era. The Oratory, dedicated to St. Mary – Mater Adonai was founded during the first half of the 3rd century by a Christian by the name of Publio, from Trotilo, in one of the numerous caves of a pre-existing hypogeum, named “the grotto of the Greek”. These caves were inhabited since prehistory and by the Greeks in the 8th century B.C. during the Greek colonisation of Sicily.
In these isolated caves, latterly transformed by the Greeks into a necropolis, some Christians from the Christian community of Leontinoi (Lentini) who were oppressed by the bloody persecution of Decio and Valeriano, found refuge.
The sanctuary consists of a cave, in front of which after its discovery in the 17th century, a brick building was constructed which gives it the aspect of a modest church. On the wall of the cave there is a fresco of the Madonna of Adonai created according to the tradition of St. Agatone, Bishop of Lipari, who also took refuge here together with the Christians from Lentini. The Madonna is shown to be sitting on a cushion of clouds with Baby Jesus in her arms, who
is holding a cross in his right hand, and in his left hand he rests his sceptre on the world. According to the views of the scholars, this picture shows the signs of various additions over the years (the crown and globe) but up to now, no-one has been able to give an exact age to the fresco.
Alexander, the Prime Minister of the tyrant of Lentini, was converted to the Catholic faith in this cave, after the martyrdoms of three brothers, Alfio, Cirino and Filadelfo, who attained sainthood. After his baptism, Alexander took the name of Neofito and later became a priest and the first Bishop of the Christian community of Lentini. An ancient inscription found near a church in Lentini, documents the cult of Mary as the Mother of God (Adonai) even earlier than the ecumenical Council of Efeso.
In the 4th century in the new climate of religious freedom, which was established by the Edict of Constantine, the cave-oratory was abandoned, probably because it was situated in a lonely place a long way from other dwellings. From the oratory dedicated to Mother Mary Adonai, only the memory remained, and even this was lost without trace for about 1,000 years, even though tradition handed down the memory of the cave with the picture of the Virgin Mary, which

no-one had ever found. One hypothesis is that at the time of the Arab invasion of Sicily, this cave was hidden to avoid its destruction, as happened to many other symbols of the Christian faith.
The discovery of the cave with the fresco of the Madonna probably happened between 1500 and 1600. Legend has it that a shepherd found it in such a strange way, that many consider it a miracle. The shepherd, after having freed a bull which had fallen into a hole in the ground, - which later was found to have been the skylight of the cave-oratory – was attracted by a mysterious bright light which shone in the underground cavity. Climbing down through the skylight, he discovered the luminous picture of the Madonna and Child.
This place immediately became a destination for pilgrimages and after some years, a small monastery was built next to the church (today it is commonly known as a hermitage) by a group of Spanish soldiers, who had passed there by chance, and who were captivated by the beauty of the portrait and its location. They abandoned their military career and formed the monastic lay
community of the Adonai, which continued to exist until 1950, the year of the death of the last Brother.
These monks observed their own rules, a part of which was from the fusion of the Benedictine and Cistercian Rules. This community of monks distinguished itself by its saintly life and by the furtherance of the cult of the sacred image of Mary.
The Sanctuary of Adonai also contains one of the oldest churches in the south of Italy and in particular in south-eastern Sicily, which survived the catastrophic earthquake of 11th January 1693 which razed to the ground nearly a third of the whole of Sicily, with a terrible loss of human life. Notarised documents proving the existence of the church of the Adonai can be traced back to early 1600 A.D.
In the first half of the 18th century, Luigi De Leon from Faenza, who was at the head of a group of volunteers, completely rebuilt the hermitage with 18 cells (which still exist) restored and enlarged the Oratory, constructing a building in front of it, which became the present small church.
The community flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries under the guidance of important people, such as Brother Luigi Deleon from Faenza, Brother Luigi Bellieri from Pavia (who was later to become the founder of the famous hermitage of San Corrado at Noto) Brother Alfio Drago from Melilli and Brother Alfonso Vigo from Acireale.
In the 18th century the hermitage had its period of maximum splendour with the onsequent flourishing of the cult of the Madonna of Adonai. In February 1740 the Brothers obtained the Pontificial Closed Orders, but during the first half of the 19th century the community went into a decline, which resulted in the hermitage standing empty from 1809 to 1839. During this period, indifference and abandon left the church and the hermitage in little more than a ruin, and being unguarded, everything that was left there was stolen.
In 1839 eight hermits under the guidance of Brother Alfonso di Gesù e Maria (of the Marchesi Vigo family from Acireale) repopulated the hermitage and with the generous help of private citizens and Religious Orders (particularly the Clarisse and the Benedictine monks of Catania) the church was repaired. It was cleaned and replenished and filled with relics and paintings inspired by he history of the oratory.
In 1841 Pope Gregory XVI granted the Plenary Indulgence to those who had confessed and taken communion at the sanctuary on the day of the feast of Mother Mary Adonai (5th August); of the Immaculate Conception; of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; of the Purification and of the Assumption and declared the altar below the image of Blessed Virgin Mary to have special
privileges (Altare privilegiato quotidiano perpetua).
However, this altar, which was built in the 17th century was demolished in 1847 to make space for the existing altar which contained the portrait of the Virgin Mary inserted into a marble frame making it seem like a painting.
During the course of the final restoration of the sacred grotto, the tombs of the original hermits were found underneath the flooring.
The years 1866-1873 were a turbulent period, when as a result of the destructive laws of the new Italian state, the monks of the Adonai risked having the monastery and all their possessions confiscated. A legal controversy took place which concluded with the victory of the Brothers, even though during this whole period, upon the instructions of the Government, they were obliged to allow the workmen who were building the nearby railway, to live in the monastery with them.
Once more, at the end of the 19th century, the community of the Adonai momentarily underwent a new period of crisis.
During the first years of the 20th century, the number of Brothers progressively diminished, decreasing gradually from five to one. The grave crisis caused by the two World Wars which touched the whole of humanity was not extraneous to the definitive decline of the glorious monastery.
Following the death of the last hermit, Fra Antonino, on the 7th June 1950, the Sanctuary and the Hermitage were left empty for some time, and became the victims of sacrilegious vandals who devastated the buildings and stole everything, even the marble tabernacle, the bell and the large painting of 1815 showing the ordaining of Saint Neofito with the chronological memory of the area. In addition to the man-made damage, there was also the damage to the brickwork caused by old age.
In the 1970s the Sanctuary and the monastic structure were lent for about 15 years to an ecclesiastical community from Catania, under the leadership of a priest (Padre Ildebrando Santangelo) who with noteworthy effort and the help of volunteers improved the ancient hermitage. Later the whole area became part of the Catholic Diocese of Siracusa, but soon the Diocese became discouraged by the vandalism and were compelled to abandon the site.
Presently it is under the jurisdiction of the nearby Parish of Brucoli and the Hermitage and the Church are coming back to life from the ruins thanks to the attentive care and the work of volunteers.
During the course of the year the old monastery, which can accommodate 40 people, is able to give hospitality, albeit spartan, to groups of scouts, parish or church groups, for days or weeks of spiritual retreats or other independent courses.
Following the earthquake of 13th December 1990, in 2000 partial renovation and consolidation works were performed. In 2007 definitive restoration works were commenced.
During the summer period Mass is celebrated during the week and every year from time immemorial each 5th August, the Feast of the Madonna Adonai, there is the traditional pilgrimage. From 2007 on alternate years, the Madonna of Adonai is honoured with a religious feast.

The oasis of Christian peace and the cult of Saint Mother Mary Adonai is being re-born.

For a meeting and visits to the Sanctuary, it is necessary to contact the
Parish of San Nicola in Brucoli, 0931-981313 Mobile 3471979657.
Further information can be found on

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