History of the Sanctuary

The majestic buildings of Oropa have been edified in the course of the centuries starting from a core unit: the small Sacellum of the Black Virgin.

Historical lore states that the Sanctuary was founded in the 4th century AD by St. Eusebius, the first bishop of Vercelli. The first written documents that mention Oropa date back to the beginning of the 13th century and mention the first simple churches of St. Mary and St. Bartholomew. These served as important reference points for ‘viatores’ (travellers) who travelled back and forth to the nearby Aosta Valley.

The Sanctuary grew and has been developed through the years into a spectacular architectural ensemble of important monumental buildings. This led to a change in the use of Oropa from one of transit to a destination used by pilgrims brought here by their strong sense of devotion.

The complex is made up of three large courtyards built on three levels and was designed by the great Savoyard architects Arduzzi, Gallo, Beltramo, Juvarra, Guarini, Galletti and Bonora between the mid 17th and 18th centuries finishing with the Upper Basilica which was consecrated in 1960. The first courtyard, faced by restaurants, bars, and several shops for the visitors, is followed by the wide square containing the Ancient Basilica that can be reached by the monumental staircase and the Royal Door.


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