People going to Tirano to visit the famous Sanctuary dedicated to the Mother of God usually stop in Dongo to pray the so-called “Our Lady of Tears” (once known as “Saint Mary of the River”) because the Madonna holding the holy baby painted on a shrine on the left shore of River Albano remained undamaged after the great flood in 1533 and on a clear and sunny September afternoon in 1533 some tears fell from the Virgin Mother’s right eye onto the shelf at Her feet.

The astonished inhabitants of Dongo considered it a miracle and decided to build a small temple around the holy image. But then, after a succession of miraculous recoveries, the authorities and all the inhabitants built a bigger church. A group of Reformed Minor Franciscans came to Dongo in 1615 and a convent was built for them in 1619. They took custody of the sanctuary enriching it with works of art. Friars with great artistic skills like Fra’ Diego de Careri carved polychrome wooden statues among which the “Last Supper” and “Crucifixion”.

The convent went through some dark times: Maria Theresa of Austria ordered its shut down and Napoleon ordered its evacuation. The monastic complex was bought by the Polti Petazzis who allowed the friars to come back in 1838. In 1868 there was another suppression by royal decree. The owners at that time won the case and in 1937 the monks returned to the convent on the anniversary of the Virgin of the River’s miracle. The complicated events finally stopped in 1937 when the property definitively passed to the “Minor Friars Province in Lombardy”.

Besides the peaceful and meditative atmosphere of the convent here you can enjoy the rich library with more than 10,000 books smelling of culture and knowledge. A loud slap to the technological world of the e-books.

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