Church of The Virgin of Graces (or the Star)In Piazza Leandra the history of Civitavecchia involves also and especially the small Church of the Star
The small church of the Virgin of Graces, better known as Church of the Star, is located in Piazza Leandra and is, together with the Church of Saint Mary of the Prayer and Death, among the oldest churches in Civitavecchia.
A CHURCH OF OLD ORIGINS
The church is site to the Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone, founded by Saint Bonaventure in 1274. Tradition has it that Saint Bonaventure, before imbarking to Lyon, drop in to see Civitavecchia where, joining the request of numbers of faithful, founded a confraternity that took the name of Company of the Gonfalone.
During the fights and rebellions that took place in Rome in 1354, the Confraternity managed to bring back order and put the slaughter to an end, in the name of the Virgine Mary. The Holy Cross became then emblem, flag and banner (gonfalone) of peace and justice.
The brothers, willing to create their own church and oratory, asked in 1688 the Ordinary of Brancacci, the Church of the Star. At their expenses, they made the church bigger, adorned it and provided it with rich holy ornaments and works of art.
Among the many relevant works of art that you can admire inside the church, there is the beautiful wooden statue of the Virgin Mary and and several paintings including "The Adoration of the Infant Jesus" and "The Crist Between Two Saints".
In the tabernacle above the altar, there is the statue of Our Lady of Graces, which recently, every September 8th, is the protagonist of a solemn procession through the streets of the center and the falls of the historical port.
Finally, on the two lateral walls and on the vault there are frescoes by the local painter Ennio Galice (20th century).
THE PROCESSION OF THE DEAD CHRIST
Inside it is possibile to admire also the valuable wooden crucifix of the Corpse of Christ. Every year, along the streets of Civitavecchia, on Good Friday, the suggestive Procession of the Corpse of Christ takes place. It is a procession of very old origins, during which the Statue of the Corpse of Christ is carried on a cart decorated and lighted up by the Brothers of the Gonfalone dressed in a white habit and with their face covered. .
The procession starts when it grows dark from the small Church of the Star (where the statue is collected) and continues along the old city of Civitavecchia lighted up by torches and old lampposts.
The main focus is formed by the penitents: hooded man and women with heavy chains tying their bare feet and some of them carrying on shoulders a wooden cross.
Attending the Good Friday Procession is a unique experience! The penitents, to remain anonyous, carry their chains marching slowly and in time at the rythm of the drums of the music band. The whole city of Civitavecchia gathers in a drammatic atmosphere of di sacredness and prayer.
Do you want to find out more about the old city of Civitavecchia? Then what about reading our special route?
Church of The Virgin of Graces
- HOW TO GET THERE
The small Church of The Virgin of Graces or the Star is located in Piazza Leandra in the old city of Civitavecchia. You can get to the square in a short walk. If you are close to the port, from Piazza Luigi Calamatta you can cross Via Trieste and then turn left at the end of Via del Piave.