In Pizzo, a small town in Calabria facing the Gulf of Sant’Eufemia, the traditional story about the church of Piedigrotta seems to confirm the old adage, “man proposes, God disposes”.
According to legend, during a storm in 1665 a ship from Naples was about to crash against the rocky cliffs below Pizzo. The captain, like many Neapolitan people, was devout to Saint Mary of Piedigrotta, and put his life in her hands, praying in front of the picture he had on board. When he and his men arrived safe and sound on land, they placed the holy image inside a small chapel carved out of rock, right where they had miraculously reached the shore.
After some time, local fishermen moved it to a small bay believed to be a better shelter against the elements. But soon another storm washed it away, taking it back to the beach where grace had been received. The prodigy appeared to be a clear sign: that was the location God had chosen, regardless of men’s good intentions.
Two hundred years later, between the 19th and 20th century, two artists from Pizzo – Angelo Barone and his son Alfonso – dug new caves in that location and carved dozens of magnificent religious subjects in the tuff stone, making the church as unique and gorgeous as we see it today.
Obviously, God wanted his faithful, tourists, and occasional visitors to be able to appreciate the beauty of his miracles.