The healing sanctuaries of Umbria; between the sacred and the profane

Church of Santa Maria Giacobbe

The Church of Santa Maria Giacobbe is constructed in a grotto halfway up Mount Pale     

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Prior to entering the sanctuary, place your foot in the footprint impressed upon the rock at the beginning of the trail: it is supposedly the imprint left by Santa Maria Giacobbe. Along the route, move your hands across the rock recesses, which according to tradition, were made by the Saint's fingers. To invoke the healing, you must lay out the painful part of your body on the rock. Now the hermitage has almost lost its curative function, but in the past it was a pilgrimage destination for sufferers of rheumatic pain, a disease frequent at the time among the inhabitants of Pale and Belfiore, especially among those working at the paper mills.
The sanctuary of Santa Maria Giacobbe (S. Maria Jacobi) is a small church, with a hermitage annex constructed during the second half of the 13th Century in a grotto halfway up Mount Pale, where tradition has it that the Saint stopped in penance. 
Hermitage of Santa Maria Giacobbe
The church is entirely frescoed and there is an unusual figure of Christ dressed in a tunic (here represented with his feet immersed in two differently shaped chalices) and an equally interesting Nativity scene in a rugged landscape that evokes the place, characterized by the presence of a kneeling saint dressed in green with a white apron (Santa Maria Giacobbe) holding baby Jesus over a basin in the shape of a chalice.          
 A dividing wall constructed at the beginning of the 16th Century separates the church's compartment from the apsidal part; it was found in the rocky wall and decorated with a frescoed image of Santa Maria Giacobbe, who is depicted with a vessel of fragrances in her hand; for this reason it is known as "mirri/ora". The frescoes on the sanctuary's apsidal wall are rather deteriorated by the continued removal of plaster fragments used to prepare potions for curative purposes.
Through the door on the right side of the apse, you arrive in a small courtyard equipped with a cistern to collect rainwater, used by hermits for domestic needs and by the devoted for therapeutic purposes. In the room annexed to the church, numerous votives are collected, primarily little painted panels, as witness to the grace received by the faithful.