The Catholic Defender: The Virgin Mary in Valmala, Italy, 1834
The shepherds went to graze their herds on the plateau called The Chiotto, where the shrine now stands.
Suddenly, with great astonishment, they saw before them, standing on a stone slab, a lady of majestic appearance, in their twenties.
She wore a long dress with a belt tied to the sides, reddish in color, on which the head down a long blue veil, held his neck by a gold button.
The Lady always appeared alone, with open hands, the traditional attitude of the Mother of Mercy.
She was sad, in tears. There is agreement that has not spoken, except perhaps to ask a chapel on site.
Particularly important were the appearances of the August 6 , the day Our Lady appeared to four shepherdesses, the seers of the neighboring villages of Valmala: Maria Pittavino (12 years), Margherita Maria Pittavino (12 years), Maria Chiotti (12 years) and Maria Boschero (10 years). In addition to the "four Marys", according to some witnesses, including Chiaffredo Pittavino (8 years), brother of Margherita Maria, was present at the time.
The first appearance is August 2. The appearances followed many times over 50 days. On the first Sunday of August of 1946 Our Lady Queen of Valmala, was solemnly crowned by Archbishop Luigi Lanzo Gile , Bishop of Saluzzo in the Diocese. From March 19 to July 30, 1949 the statue of the Mother of Mercy, honored (venerated) at the shrine, was chosen for the Pilgrimage of Mary, and brought in all the parishes of the diocese. In August 1949, in memory of Pilgrimage, was placed on the forecourt of the Shrine artistic marble statue of the Heavenly Queen.
On a bright August morning, at daybreak, four shepherdesses push their herd of cows on the road that climbs up the mountain. Out of breath, they came to a beautiful basin at an altitude of 1378 meters. The girls names were Mary Chiotto, daughter of Chiaffredo, Maria Boschero of John, Joseph and Mary Pittavino Pittavino Maria Margherita of Antonio, and all native residents in Valmala.
We follow the story of Don Lorenzo Trecco published in 1879;
(1) just 45 years after the events he has seen and heard the witnesses, and in particular Pittavino Joseph, father of one of the shepherdesses, who died in 1869 at the age of 73 years, which remains in the Archives parish Valmala, the manuscript of the affidavit .
In the middle of the green valley of Chiotto there is a large rough stone around which the shepherdesses are wont stop. That day, while resting, the four girls see on that stone a figure of a woman dressed decently, looking beautiful, good and loving. She is a young woman of about twenty, of ordinary stature.
She does not speak, seemingly unable to speak with an eagerness and inner soft-eyed peep the tears that flow live down his cheeks and fall to the ground. She alternates her tearful gaze lovingly to each of the four milkmaids.
A large veil or cloak of dark celestial blue the covers over her hair, a portion of her forehead and left and right sides of the head, leaving her face and neck uncovered. The same snow falls on the shoulders bent, joins in the neck, stopped by a button bright yellow, and falls to the ends of her dress. The outstretched arms on the right and left lift the flap of the coat, which protrude from the edge of the two white hands, fingers open, as in the act of emotion. Under the mantle as a dark red to completely cover the person, and a beautiful bright yellow belt encircles the hips, feet are fit in simple sandals. On her head is a crown of beautiful high-gloss gems adorned with dazzling beauty. The shepherdesses are ecstatic, and taken by fear, they cease to speak. They do not know who she is, perhaps Saint Anna, perhaps the Madonna.
The Lady disappears as suddenly as she appeared, and girls returned home upset, to tell what they saw.
Parents tend not too much and force the cowherd to continue in the following days to return with the cattle to the pastures of Chiotto. But after several days the dismay and fear upset them all so much so that they do not want to go back to that place "because every now and then the same great lady who always cries appear before the four of us." Then Joseph Pittavino, Mary's father, knowing the innocence of his daughter, decides to accompany the girls to see it personally. On 6 August, together with other people of the village, rises to Chiotto with her daughter and three other girls. They arrive at the rock, the four milkmaids cry together, full of wonder:
"There she is standing on the stone, the beautiful Lady, She keeps crying, has the same clothes, the same features of other times", and then they wonder that people around do not see anything.
One of the girls approaching the boulder, with one hand and raises the hem of the coat of the Apparition, the spectators see the girl's hand with fingers closed as if she is grasping something, but see nothing. Joseph Pittavino invites all to kneel and pray, and he vowed that if he can find out who represents the Apparition, build in her honor a pylon or a chapel in that place.
These events happened at 10 am on August 6, 1834, as stated in the autograph manuscript of the same Pittavino; in this document states also that Bartholomew Valmala Chiotti, present at the time, from two years plagued by acute kidney pain which forced him to walk with difficulty and bent his forehead turned to the ground, turns with confidence to the mysterious Lady and promises a gift if you recover your health. Instantly get the grace and keeps the promise. All Bartholomew Valmala knows, we all have seen bent and hunched, they see him now all healthy and straightened.
On August 15, feast of the Assumption of Mary, Joseph Pittavino feels inwardly inspired to go back on the site of the apparition, with the secret hope that the Lady appears and so will prove to be the Blessed Virgin, he joined many other people. As the party comes to Chiotto, all around the stone, and the four shepherdesses voice exclaim in wonder:
"Here, here she is the Lady! More beautiful and more beautiful than the other times, it has the same surface, the same as, the same crown on his head.
Of these no one sees the apparition, but everyone is convinced that the Madonna. Without speaking, they all kneel; Pittavino lights a candle blessed, makes the sign of the Holy Cross, against any diabolical suggestion, and intones the Holy Rosary.
During the fervent recitation of the Rosary, the four shepherdesses, as rapt in ecstasy, held their gaze fixed on the stone floor and a bit above it, on their face the bystanders noticed a lively and touching joy. After the recitation of the Rosary, Pittavino asks the shepherds if theystill see the Lady, they are amazed that others do not see it and respond that yes, she is always the same place, and that by eyes dripping with tears glistening on her face. Then continue:
"We hear voices of religious song ... what beautiful voices! ... I sing pretty ... a song that resembles that of the Solemn Mass of the dead ... ".
They say well see people moving in the blue sky and passing across the sun, obscuring it. In fact, sometimes the cowherd are obscured, as in the shade, and then nothing. "The beautiful lady is gone from the stone."
The appearances are repeated for fifty days, the Lady appears now still standing, now sitting on the stone, now see her walking along the floor that surrounds the stone. "It almost always has tears in his eyes. She turns to us his amorous glances. Often part of the stone and makes a short trip there not far from the rock, then back again over it. "During an apparition the Lady says to Mary, in the dialect of Occitan:
"Returning home tonight tell your father that I want him to erect a mast in this place where I am. Tell him that under these clods where you and your classmates have seen me walking will find sand and stones in abundance and quantity not only to erect the mast, but for still other factories. "
Joseph Pittavino begins at once the construction of the pier, but who to dedicate it to? The girls just say that this lady is an extraordinary beauty and that, with the repetition of the apparitions and after the recitation of the Rosary is manifested more and more beautiful, but nothing more. Among some people argue that it is St. Anna, but the common opinion and the general belief is that really Mary. Pittavino, to solve the riddle leads the four girls to explore the many depictions of saints and Madonnas which are located in the district Valmala, but none of those images convincing. Finally one day on the market Venasca, noting the many paintings on display from a seller stranger, all four, eyes fixed on one, with wonder and joy exclaim: "Here it is! Here it is the image that resembles in all respects to the Lady that we have seen many times on the rock of Chiotto. "
It is the Madonna appeared to Anthony Botta March 18, 1536, invoked in the great shrine of Savona in the title of Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy. Pittavino immediately buys that image and paint it on the pier by the painter Giuseppe Gauteri of Saluzzo. From that day the apparitions cease entirely, as if to signify that Madonna wanted to indicate that they want to be venerated with the title of Mother of Mercy, but the devotion of the faithful still, the buildings around the pylon grow, and reach the current Sanctuary .