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Official Web site: Santuario della Madonne dal Pilone
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The Church of Madonna del Pilone stands on the banks of the Po River, at Corso Casale 195. Its name derives from a votive pillar representing the Annunciation of the Virgin, erected in 1587.

Designed by Castellamonte, the church is simple, with a single nave and two side chapels. The main altar houses an image of the Annunciation, although it is not the original but was repainted during restorations in 1925 and 1960.

The history of the sanctuary revolves around April 29, 1644. At that time, near the river, stood a mill known as the Mulino delle Catene (Mill of Chains). Margherita Molar, the wife of a cobbler, brought a sack of wheat to be ground at the mill. Accompanying her was her eleven-year-old daughter, who shared her mother’s name: Margherita Molar.

The miracle

During the milling process, the curious girl approached the mill wheel imprudently. Slipping on the wet wood, she immediately fell into the vortex of the river. The desperate cries and shouts of the mother and the miller attracted a large crowd. Soon, many people gathered, attempting in vain to provide assistance. However, being very close to the mill wheel, the current was too impetuous, and there was no way to approach.

Church of Mandonna del Pilone.
Church of Mandonna del Pilone. The dome

The mother, now in a panic, directed one last desperate plea for help toward the Virgin depicted on the Pillar. Luigi Cibrario described the miraculos rescue:

In these searches, an hour had already passed, and no one expected to find anything other than a torn and deformed corpse. Suddenly, the mother seemed to see a matron of celestial appearance, who detached herself from the pillar and walked on the water to the middle of the river. She reached out her hand to the people who were shipwrecked there. And at that moment, to the amazement of all, the fortunate girl rose from the middle of the river, standing like a statue amidst the rushing waters. Hundreds of spectators on the banks shouted: miracle, miracle! A nearby boat collected her, and she was brought back to the shore alive and well

One year later, the 1645, at the behest of Maria Cristina of France, a first sanctuary was built. In 1779, it was expanded, and in 1787, the bell tower was added. The baptistery and choir were added later in the early 1800s.

Finally, the 1994 flood submerged the entire church, causing significant damage that necessitated a complete restructuring of the structure.

Church of Madonna del Pilone
Church of Madonna del Pilone

A papal bull from 1741 records the affiliation of the Sanctuary with the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. This affiliation is uncommon and grants the faithful who visit the Sanctuary plenary indulgence for their sins. The conditions established in the bull must be strictly followed. On February 15, 2019, the affiliation was renewed with a new papal bull.