Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lady of Grace of Mentorella, the Patroness of the Congregation of the Resurrection. The Resurrectionists are blessed to be administrators of the Shrine to Our Lady of Mentorella in Italy, and today we invite you to learn a bit about the significance of this part of our history and our current community.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Mentorella, Mother of Graces, has been administered by the Congregation of the Resurrection since 1857. Mentorella is on a mountain about 65 Km SE of Rome, and about 1020 meters above sea level. It was a favorite place of pilgrimage for Pope John Paul II. In October of 2005 Pope Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to Mentorella.
It is said to have been the place of conversion for St. Eustachius in the 2nd Century. Eustachius was eventually put to death for his faith. Two centuries later the Emperor Constantine decided to build a basilica on the spot of Eustachius’ conversion. It was consecrated by Pope Silvester I sometime before 335.
In the 6th Century the land was given to the monks of Subiaco by the Anici family. The 17th century Jesuit scholar Father Anthanasius Kircher, believed that Mentorella was one of the 12 abbeys founded by St. Benedict and that he lived in the adjacent cave for up to two years. Somewhere in the middle of the 13th Century the most precious treasure of Mentorella was created – the wooden statue of the Madonna. It sits in the church today. The Benedictines abandoned the abbey at the end of the 14th century and it fell into disrepair and ruins until Fr. Kircher discovered it. Fr. Kircher was responsible for the rebuilding of the shrine and for restoring the cult of our Lady of Mentorella. When he died he asked that his heart be buried in the church. Pope Innocent XIII who was the pope at the time also requested that his heart be buried in the church.
In 1857 Pope Pius IX placed Mentorella under the care of the Congregation of the Resurrection, under the guidance of Fr. Kajsiewicz. The General Chapter of the Congregation of the Resurrection (1864) was held at Mentorella. In 1864, the Holy Father ceded the Sanctuary of Mentorella to the Congregation of the Resurrection “ in perpetuum”. With the fall of the Papal States the Congregation of the Resurrection purchased the shrine and acquired legal title to it.
(This paragraph taken from our international Resurrectionist website.)