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Our Lady of Prosperity

Our Lady of Prosperity

Q: Who is "Our Lady of Prosperity"?

A: The title of Our Lady of Prosperity seems to be identical with that of Our Lady of Abundance or Madonna dell’Abbondanza. The shrine of Our Lady of Abundance is located in Cursi, which is a small town in the region of Salento/Italy. The Marian Shrine originated in the seventeenth century at a time when the whole region was hit hard by malady and plight. Grave and contagious sickness had decimated the population. Simultaneously, persistent drought deprived the population of their livelihood and triggered a devastating famine.

It was in these circumstances that Our Lady appeared to Biagio Natali, son of Orlando, in 1640. It happened in April. The exact date is no longer known. Biagio was in pursuit of some cattle when he arrived at a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Melito, a name which also designates a local pasture. Close by, at the edge of the road, there was a barn; painted on one of the interior walls was a fresco of Mother and Child. Suddenly, Biagio’s attention was attracted by an intense light emanating from the barn. Mystified, he noticed how the figure of Mother and Child emerged from the light. He heard a sweet voice saying: "Don’t be afraid. I am the Queen of Heaven. Return to your village and try to placate your neighbors. I have heard their prayers. Assure them that as of this day their suffering has come to an end. As sign of my protection you will have an abundant harvest."

Filled with joy and gratitude, Biagio returned to Cursi and announced the message of Our Lady to the pastor and the whole village. The pastor of that time, Don Giovanni Domenico Coccioli, received it with great joy and gratitude, not least because in a dream he had received the same message. Thus, he mobilized the whole village, and in procession, praying and singing, they all went to the place of the apparition. The miracle happened on their return to the village. All at once, out of a blue sky, the long awaited rain poured down and mercifully drenched the arid fields and pastures. The rain lasted for three days putting an end to drought and, eventually, to famine. Indeed, the harvest that year (1640) was exceptionally abundant, granaries and cellars overflowing with wheat and fruit.

The people of Cursi wanted to show their gratitude to Our Lady. In place of the little chapel of Our Lady of Melito a lofty church was built incorporating the walls of the old chapel and the enshrined fresco of Our Lady with the Child Jesus. From its very beginning in 1650, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Abundance was, and still is, a popular pilgrimage place.

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