Welcome to our website! Frank-Menchise.com (Page 25) 

    You are invited to read about amazing real life stories. 

 The stories in this page might not be as amazing as we would like them to be, but they are real life stories. 

   This page will be about the history of Genzano di Lucania and its heritage (8)

 Madonna story of Genzano

The Madonna story

Welcome to my hub, the Madonna story of Genzano di Lucania, you are all invited.

Here under are two or three links that are a must see for those that come from Genzano town and also everyone else: I hope they work, as they also brink up more interesting links to see.


Travel Videos - Fountain cavallina,Genzano, Italy - The Compulsive ...


In my last article called, The heritage chapter, we have explained and accepted that indeed in Genzano di Lucania a long time ago there were living some Greek people in one of the chasms, so, now I would like to go back to talk about the Greek people; because, there are reasons to believe that before the Greek people left the chasm for the last time, they seemed to have been forced to hide their Madonna effigy at the lower end of the chasm; so this is another very important story to tell about the Greek community that lived in Genzano territory a very long time ago, at the beginning of the Christian Era. Here we have to admit that what we are telling here is only folklore stories and some logic human explanations when we try to put all what is known together.

We have also to admit that what follows here is mostly guess work, because nobody knows for sure what happened to the Greek people, it is known that they were there and then they were not there anymore, but the facts are not really known and perhaps it is not important to know exactly what happened to them, because here we want only to tell you the story of the Madonna that is going to follow here-under. But for sure there must have been an upheaval of some sort early in the Christian era because; they (the Greek people) seem to have been persecuted and had to run away, and when they left they had to hide away their most precious religious things. So they left behind buried in a secret spot in a little known cave, an effigy of a Madonna, which was to be found much later by the people of Genzano.

How they came about to find this Madonna icon later on just about everybody in Genzano knows the story, and they could tell you their own version easily. So, I had only to find a few names and a few dates to write my own version down, which I would like to tell you here and now.

           Welcome to our website 

My name is Frank Menchise

and we are going to write in next few pages about the town I have come form, Genzano di Lucania. And also the town history as we know it. 


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 This is the Madonna with child effigy that they found in the year 1619 at Genzano di Lucania. In reality the effigy they found had no gold crown and it is a sculpture on a rectangular flat stone about 45 centimeter or there about.

The Madonna feast

Here under is the Madonna statue that the people of Genzano take around town in a procession, the feast lasts for three days and it is celebrated every year at the beginning of August. If you visit Facebook and see this photo statue click on it to see the other photos of this great feast.

 The Madonna story as we know it begins

One day in the year of our Lord 1619 there was this fourteen years old youth, whose parents were of a good and honourable family, his name was; Pietro di Giovan Filippo, and he happened to mind some oxen in the fields at that time, he was in the zone that we call Strippara nearby Genzano town where this event took place, in fact it seems to me that he was at the very beginning of the chasm called ‘Del Monte’. So, while he was browsing his oxen there; a Lady all dressed in white appeared to him; and she told him that he should go and tell the people of Genzano that, they should go into the chasm near the fountain of Capo d’aqua, and dig in the cave that was once known to have been in the vineyard of ‘Don Fabio’ and they would find her image there. The youth went to town and told the people and the priest of the apparition of this great Lady, but they were not sure whether to believe him or not; so nothing was done about it at that point of time. But after a few days or a week or two, the Lady in white appeared to the youth again; But this time she asked the youth to open his hand, and she wrote in his hand a message to the priest, she closed the youth hand and told him to go to the priest and show him that writing. The youth now with his closed fist that he could not or would not open for fear ran into the town and found the priest, and told him about the second apparition of the Lady in white, and that the Lady had written on his hand in his closed fist something; the priest took his hand to see and there in front of the priest he could open his hand again; and in his hand the priest could see the message which read (I am Maria Santissima Delle Grazie, and come to find me).

So, now the priest had no doubt in his mind from where that message was coming, and he assembled the people of Genzano and told them the facts. A search was organized, and they dug in and around the said cave for a very long time, and not knowing exactly where else to dig, they also dug farther up the mountain, where they found some human remains and other object as evidence that there once lived eremites. The search went on for about two long years and therefore they became tired of it. And it seemed to them at that time, that there was not a real Madonna image to be found, because the only image of a Madonna that they had found there was a Madonna traced over the sand which was slowly disappearing. And thinking that this would be all that they could find, they decided to give up the search, but at the same time they would build a small chapel in honour of this Madonna. But while they were digging the foundation for this chapel, a whole heap of very hard rock fell from the chasm’s wall above, which showed them that there was a smaller cave near the old cave higher up in the chasm’s wall, and in this small cave they found a few religious items, including a small image of St. Peter on a brick, but there was no Madonna.

 The Madonna is found

So they decided to remove the fallen rocks and sort them out, so that they could use those rocks to build part of the chapel anyhow. And then it happened; it happened the 25th day of March 1621 late in the afternoon, it was about the time when in the church they say this afternoon prayer called Vespers, at this time of the day most people that are in the country would pack up to go home. But there was a worker working at the fallen stone heap, and although he was tired he felt that he wanted to do just a little bit more before he would turn in, so he kept working just a little bit extra: His name was ‘Giovanni Malatesta’ and he was digging with a pick to get the stones loose from the fallen heap of rocks, when he hit a very hard rock, and a beautiful aroma filled the air: he had struck with his pick the sculpture of the ‘Madonna with Child’. What a shock to this man must have been, when he realised that he struck with his pick the icon of the Madonna over the eye. They say that he never was the same man again from the shock, and it is said that he died early in his life not long after this event took place.

As soon as they realised that they had found the Madonna, somebody ran up the road to town, to let the people of Genzano know that they had finely found the Madonna icon, and the good news spread so fast, and most of the town’s folks went to see for themselves, even though it was already evening and it soon would be dark.

The whole town was in feast for a very long time afterward.

All the religious authorities were in due time advised about the finding of the Madonna icon, and they took part in the prescribed religious events that followed. A Chapel was built on the spot where they had found the Madonna, with the intention that one day they would build a church there. After they found the icon of the Madonna with Child many people came to adore this Madonna, they came from the surrounding towns and also from far away towns and they received so many miracles from this Madonna that would be even hard just to count their number.

 The Madonna church

Some years had passed by from the day that they found the Madonna icon, when somebody dreamed that the Madonna wanted a church of her own built on a hill called ‘Montefreddo’, as it happened the night that the dreamer dreamed was snowing, but in the morning the snow had melted away everywhere except where the dreamer had dreamed that the Madonna wanted her church built. The dreamer told her dream to the people of Genzano, which then they understood and took notice of the strange event of the snow. Therefore it was then decided that the new church would have to be built where that large patch of snow was left. And this is the reason why the church of this Madonna was built on Montefreddo.

With the building of the Madonna church many more devotees came to adore this Madonna, and they prayed to her for graces or miracles; and many graces they received in return, so this Madonna sanctuary grew and became well known all around the country for a few centuries, but then one day a fire broke out in the crowded church, because they had too many things going on at the same time and some people perished. After that it was closed for a while and when they fixed opened it again, it was not as popular as before.

Nowadays, although this Madonna church has been damaged badly twice by earthquake and once by fire, as we have said above, it has been rebuilt and restored and it is still very popular, but not quite as much as it used to be, I suppose it is the sign of the times, because people nowadays don’t believe in religion as much as they used to do in the old times.

Anyhow, in the town of Genzano of nowadays, we still celebrate a great feast for this Madonna, the yearly festivity for this Madonna are held for three days the first week end in August. We will have to come back to tell you about these festivities later on; because now I would like to tell you what else the people of Genzano did after they found the Madonna at Capo D’aqua.

 This is how the Madonna story goes, a youth called, Pietro di Giovan Fillippo saw this lady (Madonna) dressed in white, who told him to tell the people of Genzano to go in the vineyard of Don Fabio and look for her effigy.

This is the church that the people of Genzano di Lucania built for their Madonna; Maria Santissima delle Grazie.

In this photo this fountain does not look much. But it is a lot bigger that it looks and there is a lot of water at this fountain, as there are several spout flowing all the time.

 Madonna chapel and fountain

Let us go back at the site where they found the Madonna and what the people of Genzano did soon after they found this Madonna; we have already mentioned above that they were going to built a chapel, and so they built the chapel; but at the same time they built a larger fountain, because when the people of Genzano were digging to find the Madonna icon, they also found another large spring of water, so they channelled this water to make a larger fountain nearby that to these days is called Capo d’aqua, because on the abundance of this spring waters.

Since then this fountain has been rebuilt and enlarged about year 1800, in order to serve the people of Genzano as the population was growing larger. The fountain has inscribed in a corner the name of a certain ‘Lepore’, perhaps he was the mayor of the town at the time when they built or rebuilt the fountain. It is a large and abundant spring fountain situated just downstream from where they had found the Madonna, and just about where the Del’monte chasm and the Greek chasm meet, but well before they merge with St. Michael chasm downstream. The fountain was built as a simple country fountain, and it has five or six large troughs of about three metre long and one metre wide, all built of solid and simple masonry. There are reasons to believe that the people of Genzano have used a lot this outside town fountain, because there was no reticulated water in town in those times.

So, this fountain was used in various ways, as there are two troughs which have three and four water sprouts each, which are fed from the spring and are constantly pouring water into the troughs. The two troughs with the sprouts are reserved for the animals to drink, and for those people that want to fill some sorts of vessels straight from the sprouts. From these two troughs then the water runs out into the rest of the troughs, and these secondary troughs were used to do the town’s washing, since there was no reticulated water in town in those times.

Capo d’aqua fountain was very popular in the old times, there was even a song that a young girl used to sing happily, she would sing about the time when she would go to Capo d’aqua fountain to do the washing. I can still remember a few of the dialect verses, and they go like this:

Italian dialect verses.

Me chiam Rosa e teng vent’ann

E a Capodaqua ije lav li pann

Kiss eij la dota ca me dai mam

na strecatora e na cest de pann.


English version

My name is Rose and I am twenty

And a Capo d’aqua I wash my clothes

This is the dowry that my mother gives me,

A scrubbing board and a basket of clothes.

I believe that by now I have said enough about the Madonna story and the fountain of Capo D’aqua, situated in the town that I have come from. I hope that you my readers by now have got a pretty good idea what it was like then, and also what was like over there when I was young. So, now I would like to talk about my own life and personal farm experience, which would be a few centuries after the Madonna story.