The Madonna who has protected sons and daughters through a war

© Antoine Mekary/ALETEIA
Immaculate Heart of Mary © Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Our May series of the “Little Madonnas” of Rome takes us today to the Torpignattara neighborhood.

We continue with our daily tour this month through a particular artistic expression of Marian devotion: Rome’s “Madonnelle” (“little Madonnas”). These are images of Mary—some of them miraculous—scattered throughout the streets and alleyways of the city. They are the object of much popular devotion.

Sacred Heart of Mary: Via Gabrio Serbelloni 42


© Antoine Mekary/ALETEIA
Immaculate Heart of Mary © Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

“The Madonna has been here since 1950. My father Romolo, a partisan from Torpignattara, had the image placed here to thank the Madonna for having brought my two brothers to return safe and sound from the war, and for having protected me, my other brother, and my four sisters.”

Telling us this story is Virgilio Screpanti, Romolo’s son. He is 90 years old now, and he still lives at the same address – 42 Gabrio Serbelloni, in the Torpignattara neighborhood. After the death of his parents—Romolo and Angela—he is the one who takes care of this little Madonna, next to the front door of his home.


© Antoine Mekary/ALETEIA
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

The shrine truly is well maintained, always accompanied by lit candles and fresh flowers. Mr. Alberto Gabrielli, who lives in the same apartment building, also helps take care of this shrine. “One day, I had a serious car accident right under the sacred image. I was miraculously protected: I emerged unscathed — not even a scratch.”

The money collected in the offering box is donated to the nearby parish of St. Barnabas. The Madonna is painted on ceramic tiles and is housed in a shrine flanked by two small columns.

(From a publication of St. Barnabas Parish. Text by Arturo Pallini.)


Follow the series here: Little Madonnas of Rome

See more articles like this at Aleteia’s Art & Travel section.

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