According to an ancient tradition, Saint Mark and Saint Peter – who evangelized Apulia – built a crypt dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Vallis Rosarum, in Massafra, in the province of Taranto. A legend reports a miraculous episode happened nearby around the year 300, when two does chased by hunters kneeled down where a Byzantine painting of the Virgin with Child was found.
To commemorate the event, the Sanctuary of Madonna della Scala was built. A fresco of Mary, worshipped as the protector of the city on the Ionian Sea, is still kept inside the Sanctuary, on a block of calcareous stone in the 18th-century high altar.
The magnificent Baroque and Neoclassic building has a Latin cross plan and three naves with vaulted ceilings, broken up by massive pillars. It rises near the crypt of the Buona Nuova: climb up the 125 steps on the eastern side of the city’s ravine, and you’ll have the chance to see a 13th-century fresco of the Madonna of the Buona Nuova, a monumental Pantocrator and a beautiful Saint Catherine.
Sanctuary of Madonna della Scala
via del Santuario, 119
Tel.: +39 0998 852265