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b>Sacred Mount of Oropa - Biella - Italy
Sacred Mount of Oropa
Oropa Sanctuary (Unesco World Heritage) in Biella - Italy
Piedmont’s famous pilgrimage site. Madonna Nera (Black Holy Lady)
The sanctuary stands at the top of the woods and meadows of the Oropa Valley basin. Founded in 1620, the sanctuary spreads around three large squares and is both impressive and picturesque.
The First square is enclosed by two buildings from the 18th and 19th-centuries,. The Second square, standing on a higher level, has buildings designed between 1740-1750 by Francesco Gallo.
From the second square, take the long majestic flight of steps to reach the Holy Square, built in the 17th-century to designs by Pietro Arduzzi. Here the Ancient Basilica stands, built at the beginning of the 17th-century on the site of an earlier 2nd-century church. Inside is the so-called "Sacello Eusebiano" which houses the statue of the Madonna Nera (our Holy Black Lady) . This wooden sculpture covered in gold and gems dates back to the end of the 13th-century. According to legend it was brought to Oropa in the 3rd-century by the bishop of Vercelli, Eusebio.
Beyond the square rises the New Basilica built between 1885 and 1960. Completing the sanctuary are nineteen chapels that make up the Oropa Holy Mount. Of these, twelve were built between 1620 and 1720, and contain groups of sculptures depicting scenes from the life of the Madonna. The other seven, dispersed around the sanctuary, recount devotional episodes connected to Oropa.