Switzerland: The Treasures of the Orselina Convent

January 27, 2022
Source: fsspx.news
Madonna del Sasso

The library of the Capuchin Convent of the Madonna del Sasso in Orselina, near Locarno, Ticino, contains more than 15,000 books.

The work of cataloging the collection, which lasted eight years, was supported by the association Pro Restauro Sacro Monte di Orselina, with the collaboration of the Capuchins of Italian Switzerland and the financial support of the canton of Ticino. It was produced by the Competence Center for Antiquarian Books of the Biblioteca Salita dei Frati in Lugano.

Specialist Laura Luraschi, who worked on the project, explains that this guarantees the protection of the works, their knowledge and their value. Sixty percent of Orselina's books deal with religious subjects.

An important part of the works relates to history and literature. The cataloging revealed a few rare items including the Liber Conformitatum, written by Bartholomew of Pisa in the 14th century, which draws parallels between the life of Christ and that of St. Francis of Assisi.

The library of the Madonna del Sasso Convent brings together the surviving heritage of four collections of old books: that of the convent of San Francesco in Locarno founded around 1230, that of the Franciscans of the Madonna del Sasso (around 1480), that of the Capuchins of San Rocco of Locarno (1602), and, finally, that of the Capuchins who moved to Orselina in 1848.

The collection is strong with several editions from the 16th century (approx. 500) and includes 33 incunabula and around thirty post-incunabula. It also preserves four medieval manuscripts from the convent of San Francesco in Locarno, property of the State and Canton of Ticino.

Overlooking Lake Maggiore, Madonna del Sasso is the most visited Marian shrine in Italian-speaking Switzerland. According to tradition, this sanctuary was founded following the apparition of the Virgin Mary to the Franciscan Brother Bartolomeo Piatti of Ivrea, on the eve of the feast of the Assumption, in 1480.

From his window in the St. Francis of Locarno Convent, founded in 1230, he saw Mary appear on this hill, he continues. She asked him to build there a place dedicated to Marian veneration. The Italian Franciscan thus fulfilled the wish of Our Lady. He spent the last 30 years of his life there as a hermit.

At the top of the hill the first two chapels were built: one dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption – which is the oldest part of the current church – and the other, a little further, called La Pietà. Both churches were consecrated in 1487.

Next to the Basilica of the Assumption, Madonna del Sasso houses the Capuchin convent, as well as a small museum that traces the history of this place and its heritage.