photo © Lauro Apruzzese
The Churches of Gallinaro
The Church of Saints Giovanni Battista and Evangelista
The first Church of San Giovanni Battista and Evangelista was built in approximately 1300. Towards the end of the 16th century, a duke of Alvito, in need of money, sold the upper part of the castrum to the citizens of Gallinaro, to build a church. The work was carried out between 1593-1594 and the first Mass was celebrated in the new church in November 1595. The building was enlarged in the 1700’s by Saba Bevilacqua.
After the earthquake of 1984, the church of San Giovanni has been expertly restored and today presents itself as a fine example of a Baroque religious structure.
Sanctuary of San Gerardo
San Gerardo is the patron saint of Gallinaro. He was in fact born in England and died in Gallinaro in 639 during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The first church was built during the 12th century on the site of his burial. The Sanctuary developed having been funded by many donations and during the fourteenth century a hospital was created. In approximately 1713 it was refashioned with the Baroque facade which we see today.
On Pasquetta, or Easter Monday, traditionally many pilgrims flock to the Sanctuary.
Church of San Leonardo
The Chapel of Bambino Gesù
It is said that in 1947 a little girl by the name of Giuseppina Norcia was playing on her own near her home in Gallinaro. She was due to make her first Holy Communion and her mother and friends were busy preparing for the special occasion. Giuseppina is said to have seen a cloud descending from the sky on which a baby of incredible beauty was sleeping. The Baby Jesus opened his eyes and smiled at her. She ran home to tell her mother but by the time they returned the apparition had disappeared.
Giuseppina searched the sky for many months in the hope of seeing the vision of Baby Jesus again and as she grew up she retained this hope. In 1974, she was unexpectedly taken ill, and whilst praying intensely, she is said to have seen Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Michael the Archangel. After a few days, Jesus with the Virgin Mary and Saint Mesia, (a martyr whose body lies in the church of the castle of Alvito) and was told that she would be healed. Giuseppina asked to have a simple little chapel built in the place where she first saw the Baby Jesus. In 1975, in the Via Fonte district, a little chapel was built, dedicated to the Baby Jesus named the “Culla del Bambino Gesù” and many pilgrims came to the site to pray and in search of miracles.
Giuseppina Norcia died in 2008 aged 68, She was said to have been a beacon of faith, strength and hope, however her apparitions were never officially recognised by the Catholic Church.
In recent years there has been a great deal of controversy in Gallinaro. In 2001 a new Italian cult developed named the “Universal Christian Church of the New Jerusalem”, a schism of the Catholic church. The new cult did not recognise the pope as the head of the Catholic Church. Large sums of money were collected from the pilgrims and other organisations and a huge modern church and reception centre was built just outside of Gallinaro, called Casa Serena. Finally the sect was officially excommunicated by the Pope in 2016.
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