Diocesan Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of the Gate
Place of worship established on the medieval gate of San Giuliano (Saint Julian), now incorporated into the Sanctuary
Image of the Madonna dating back to the 14th century
It houses a replica of the Lourdes grotto
Name and Origins
The Sanctuary dedicated to Maria SS.ma "Porta Paradisi" (Holy Mary of Paradise Gate) or more commonly called Madonna del Portone (Madonna of the Gate) was built in 1902. The building incorporates a primitive church, built in correspondence with one of the medieval access doors to the city that opened between the Ponente (West) and Mezzogiorno (South) and which turned towards the San Marco district. The site became a place of devotion due to the presence of an image of the Madonna enthroned with the Child.
In 1500, the Asti painter Gandolfino da Roreto retouched the image of Maria Santissima (Holy Mary), adding to the sides San Secondo (Saint Secundus), patron saint of the city, and San Marco (Saint Marc), patron saint of the hamlet. A staircase with a wooden loggia was built under the fresco to allow access to the devotees, and in 1689 a chapel was also built.
The sanctuary, in Romanesque-Byzantine style, has three naves with two large lateral chapels, with a Latin cross. It boasts a 41-meter high huge dome, surmounted by a smaller dome on which a gilded copper statue of the Virgin rests.
The imposing atrium is made up of Byzantine granite columns and is characterized by a wide staircase. From the presbytery, frescoed in the eighteenth century, you enter the chapel with the fresco of the Madonna enclosed in a wooden case.
The facade was embellished with mosaics and statues depicting the Saints of the Asti tradition in 2002, on the occasion of the centenary of the construction of the Sanctuary.
The Sacellum and the Venerated Image
The sacellum is what remains of the seventeenth-century sanctuary. Here you can admire the sacred image, distributed in a triptych within an elegant Baroque frame. Next to the Virgin and Child, Saint Mark and Saint Secundus, patron saint of the city, are depicted on the sides.
The crypt was built in 1930 and consecrated for worship in 1932. It has two diorama chapels depicting the Holy Christmas and the Burial of Jesus, with life-size wooden statues.
The Sanctuary is also accessed through the side garden, where there is a copy of the Lourdes grotto from 1930.
The cave contains a reproduction of the famous alabaster 1.20-meter-high statue of the Immaculate Conception, a fountain with the words of the Virgin and a small stream that runs up to the statue of Saint Bernadette.
The Sanctuary was visited by Pope John Paul II on September 26, 1993.