The Hermitage of S. Maria infra Saxa

“About in the half of the gorge there is a sanctuary: Madonna of Frasassi. The Sanctuary is sited in the wide mouth of a natural tunnel, the main branch of which is 410 metres long. That is the famous Cave of Frasassi, which presents itself as a volcanic crater that exploding broke the mountain in two parts. In the wide mouth there are two churches. (Pagnani) “Originally, there were two separate churches , the Benedictine Monastery’s, or “carcer” of Saint mary “Boccasaxorum”, which historian Bradimarte affirms it was founded in Pian del Carmine; and the oratory of Saint Mary “Infrasaxa”, belonging to the same nuns, inside the homonym cave”. (Sassi) “There is a small wooden statue of uncertain age and uncertain hand”. (Pagnani) The venerated image was incidentally burnt by a votive candle about in 1947.

It was substituted by the present white-stone statue reproducing the Virgin with the Infant Jesus. “The monastery already existed in 1029, when a part of it was given to a Saint Vittore by two vassals. In 1420 the monastery and the oratory were assigned to Saint Biagio; two years later, John, bishop of Camerino, suppressed the monastery, but once demolished, remained only the oratory which passed to the parish of Rosenga in 17th century”. (Sassi)

It is worth to be remembered the tradition following which, during the early Crusades, the crusaders - or the monks - fleeing from the Turkish, took with them the skull of Saint Marone, founder of the church of Maronites. They probably stopped in Foligno, where there is also the sepulchre.

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