Going up to Castelmonte means making a pilgrimage, always. Whether you arrive on foot, from Carraria or some other mountain path, whether you arrive by car or by bus. A physical path, therefore, but above all a spiritual itinerary, capable of "building" new life.
In those who do it, the need to rediscover the profound meaning of one's existence is expressed, which everyday life, with its incessant rhythm, often forgets or, with the thousand activities and various commitments, shatters. At the same time, during the pilgrimage, the desire to open up to horizons wider than those that our eyes see is renewed, to open up to the mystery of God that is always unexpected and new. The pilgrimage, therefore, like any journey, is an itinerary of liberation.
In reality, on this physical and spiritual path it is God who makes his way into our lives, if only we know how to be silent and live the various moments with faith. For this reason, the road that leads to the sanctuary is not an empty wandering, but is accompanied by the mystery of the encounter between God and man in Jesus. In fact, the road that leads from the plain to the Sanctuary is marked by the capitals of the Rosary, i.e. it is guided by the mysteries of the life of Christ. And once we arrive at the sanctuary, everything leads to him, the meaning of our actions, thoughts, and love.
"Woman here is your Son"
Mary, the mother who welcomes everyone…
Mary, whom many pilgrims seek and invoke, awaits us inside the sanctuary. Her beloved disciple was entrusted to her on the cross and with him the whole Church. In her, therefore, we see the living image of the maternal heart of God who welcomes and protects everyone.
She who carries the Son of God in her womb reminds us that we are called to an encounter with him and to the intimate communion of his life.
Furthermore, she opens the way for us to encounter the mystery of God enclosed in the child Jesus; she reminds us to seek God in weakness and littleness, in a word, in love.
She teaches us the willingness to be shaped by him and made in her image. In the contemplation of this image, man's pride is destroyed. In fact, even the mother who has welcomed the child into her womb looks at him to receive life from him.
'Do what he tells you'
…and gives us the Son
For those who wish to be reconciled with God and with their brothers and sisters, some friars are always present in the sanctuary. Confession is the moment in which we entrust ourselves to God's mercy in truth and humility and he, like the merciful Father in the parable, raises us up to the highest dignity and reconfirms us as his children. This is his judgment: no sin can erase his love for him and our dignity as children. From this awareness begins an ever new journey of conversion and renewal.
The broken bread and the spilled wine are the symbols through which Jesus comes alive in our lives. By feeding on this bread, broken for all, we take shape from him and carry out Paul's advice: "Have in yourselves the same attitudes that were in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5).
Even today, the faithful bring to the sanctuary paintings that represent particular events in which, in a moment of danger or great concern, they have perceived Mary's support and protection. In the votive offerings that fill the walls of the central nave of the church and the crypt, these personal experiences become shared testimony. These paintings are the living memory of God's fidelity in the daily life of many people. Without this memory and without this testimony, God himself would be further away from everyone. In these images, however, he also makes his way into the lives of us who look at them today.
A large book, placed on the altar in the crypt, welcomes everyone's prayers and invocations. From thanksgiving to the request for help, from the remembrance of loved ones to praise ... in these pages the lives of many pilgrims open up, through words, to the work of God and to the support of brothers and sisters. In particular, the prayer of all also becomes the prayer of the community of friars who live in this sanctuary.
The candle that many pilgrims light before leaving the sanctuary and before returning to their homes is the sign that what has been sown here will not be forgotten. The flame continues to burn after we have left this place as a sign of faith which, remaining alive, illuminates the various circumstances in which life places us.