- Piazzale de Consultibus-Cimbrone, 1, Cassano delle Murge (BA)
In around 1250, following threefold revelatory vision to a pious priest cassanese, takes place the discovery of the image of the "Madonna degli Angeli", was painted on a wall of the natural cave located on the Murgia of Cassano. The sacred image had been hidden in the cave plurimillenaria as a result of persecution (717-741) of Leo III said the iconoclast. The discovery sùbito had done rush on the hill, not only the population cassanese but also a large mass of pilgrims from every where coming. It was built a church and some recesses that hosted the first assistants of the sacred place: the Franciscan Friars Minor of compliance. In 1598 were replaced by "Alcantarini".
The Grotto of Our Lady of the Angels
is a natural cavity dedicated for centuries to the cult of the Holy Virgin of the Angels, protectress of Cassano delle Murge. Access to this sacred cave, located at 400 meters above sea level, it is now possible to descend from the inside of the fifteenth-century elevated sanctuary, with an easy staircase artificial. At the time of the Roman Emperors, when was sore persecution against believers in the God of the Gospel, this cave was a catacomb frequented by early Christians cassanesi which, fleeing also hatred and persecutions of the gentiles gathered to celebrate their faith and to bury in special niches the bodies of their dead. On the wall is painted the Blessed Virgin with the child in his arms between a crown of Angels. The cavity is approximately 5 meters wide and equally; its height is an average of 4 meters. The primitive aspect has been altered by the works of the embankment of the rocky walls. It was in the course of these proceedings that was discovered a breach to elements coarse calcareous with abundant bones of pleistoceniche species of great and small mole, and fragments of rhinoceros, elephas bos, cervus, species in existing part and in part emigrated in our districts. Are precious finds for the knowledge of the fitoclimatiche region in the course of the last interglaciale, when the wooded Landa Carsica Delle Murge was populated by species of warm arid with medium annual thermal higher than it is today, with low values of precipitation.
The painting of the Virgin Mary of the Angels (in the cave)
and the image of the Virgin which gave origin and gives meaning to the whole complex. Found here, to dir of tradition, a first time in the XIII century and then a second, 19 May 1855, as a result of "mysterious signs", has become a place of pilgrimage for the devotion to Mary. The title is due to the angels that surround the face of the Virgin - some no longer visible - and to the presence of the Friars minor (Franciscans) as the first guardians of the grotto and of the nascent sanctuary. Our Lady has the head reclined and resting on the Child Jesus, depicted in profile. Its origin divides specialists: according to some it is one of the first centuries of Christianity, even before Constantine, because on the crown there is the cross; according to other dates back to the era of the Basilian Order, then the period of persecution of Leo III Isaurian (714-741).
Outside the sanctuary
the eighteenth-century façade, cuspidata, is open at the center by a window centinata. The portal is surmounted by a pointed arch in the lunette is located unbassorilievo of the Virgin of the Angels. Set against the left side stands the construction of the Chapel of the crucifix in the wall of which is embedded a stone bas-relief depicting the Lord blessing, that stands with the left the globe. On the right access to the Convent, which is reached through the characteristic cloister four-sixteenth century. Always on the right side of the Convent, the great bulk of complex built in 1937 by the Augustinian Religious, for social works.
the central nave: it is like a corridor (m. 23.20 x 5.25) with a barrel vault and bare walls. On the left an almost corridor form the lateral nave with at the bottom of the Crib and then the compartment of the Chapel of the Crucifix. At the side of the presbytery the access ramps to the grotto where you arrive through a shrine of precious marbles, in memory of the fallen in war of Cassano. Lateral nave: corridor (m. 10.00 x 3.10) with time low and arches. Background: the crib; on the left side: the altars of St. Rita and S. Augustine (recently marble invoice) and the entrance to the Chapel of the Crucifix: is a square compartment (m. 9 1 5 x 8.70), formed by 4 arches with cornice on which is set the time to the roof.
constituted by two wings delimited by fine pilasters resting on a high plinth and with carved capitals to ova and volutes and divided into panels; in them, precious jars and finely painted with ribbon-shaped reasons. The work of local shop of the XVIII century and was restored in March 2002.
in the center pane are represented the Eucharistic symbols delimited by Fieldfares and panes with floral motifs. These are repeated also in the bottom zone alternated by large acanthus leaves that act as support to the pedestals; on the side faces are repeated the same reasons. Unknown local carver of the XVI century. Restored in May 2002.
on the left, leaving the Church, a small staircase leads to the entrance of the monastery which is accessed through the concierge and a beautiful cloister. The Cloister, taste Franciscan characteristically, by low arches and acute sixth, dates back to the foundation of the Convent, even if restored in time contains all around frescoes (recently restored) with scenes from the life of Saint Francis which date back to the first half of the eighteenth century. The Alessandrelli advances the idea that they are the work of fellow painter Giuseppe Domenico Balestra (Cassano Murge 1668-1754), or at most the same author of similar existing decoration in the Convent of Bitetto.
by referring to an old tradition, reported in 1482, according to which "on the cenoby Cassano is lit every evening a big lamp, which was safe driving the navigators to anchor in the port of Bari", in 1954, a remembrance of the Marian Year, the Augustinian community raised to heaven a beacon that tells all the presence of Mary, lighthouse that illuminates the path of the wayfarer toward God.