Point of Interest
Sanctuary of Monserrato
Località Monserrato, Porto Azzurro, Isola d'Elba
Tel. 0565 95075
Perched on a rocky outcrop, the Sanctuary of Monserrato is located in an enchanting setting, among cypresses, agaves and Mediterranean scrub, offering visitors a beautiful panorama of the valley below.
The long history of the Sanctuary of Monserrato began by chance in 1606, when the governor of the new Spanish Presidium of Longone, Don Joseph Ponce Y Leon, realised that the rugged landscape of the valley north of Barbarossa was very similar to the land surrounding the famous monastery of Monserrat, in his native Catalonia.
The governor commissioned the construction of a small chapel with a high dome, which was built in a clear Iberian-Baroque style mirroring that of the Spanish sanctuary. This chapel became the custodian of a precious painting of the Black Madonna, whose “graces” could be understood from the many ex-votos which were kept (until a few decades ago) in the sacristy of the small church.
Throughout the 18th century, the Sanctuary and the adjoining hermitage, where as many as 5,600 monks once lived, were an essential stop on the island’s pilgrimage, undertaken by sailors, farmers and preachers of all kinds. St. Paul of the Cross, for example, on one of his many trips to Elba, identified the Sanctuary and the surrounding site as the ideal place to establish his nascent community, the “Passionists,” but this proposal was rejected twice by the Longone clergy (in 1729 and 1741). Over the years, the monks left and in 1820, the last resident abandoned the sanctuary. A village priest continued to celebrate mass and reside there periodically until at least 1846.
A sanctuary of Spanish origin that will fascinate you with its many stories to tell. Recently restored, the festival of the Madonna di Monserrato is celebrated here on 8 September.
In the following years, the sanctuary was only open on 8 September each year, for the historical celebration of the Black Madonna. On that day, in fact, a large number of devotees from all over the island would walk through the valley early in the morning to arrive on time for the masses that Don Carlo Geri, parish priest of Porto Longone from 1911 to 1955 (today known as Porto Azzurro) began to officiate at eight o’clock in the morning, which continued throughout the day.
The custom of the religious procession that leads from the “Pinone” to the Sanctuary was begun by Don Sergio Trespi in the mid-eighties, and immediately brought back powerful memories of the sanctuary’s past importance. Monserrato belongs to the people and, on this day, all the locals make the pilgrimage, some in groups, some alone, to pay homage to the Madonna with the dark face whose help they have sought many times.
How to get there
Da Porto Azzurro, prendere la provinciale per Rio Marina; dopo circa 1 chilometro sulla sinistra si trova un segnale che indica la strada per raggiungere il Santuario. Parcheggiare nel piazzale all'altezza del maestoso albero di pino secolare o nello spiazzo poco più avanti, quindi procedere a piedi fino a raggiungere il Santuario.