Madonna di Pietralba: the most important pilgrimage site in South Tyrol
Walking from Laives to Madonna di Pietralba
Surrounded by green meadows and dark spruce forests the pilgrimage site Madonna di Pietralba is situated at an altitude of 1,520 m.
History of Madonna di Pietralba
The history of this pilgrimage site begins in 1533 with the discovery by farmer Leonhard Weißensteiner of an alabaster pietà. The construction of the pilgrimage church started in 1638. The church was consecrated in 1673, the monastery was built in 1722. The place, which originally was a place for Confession and only infrequently visited by priests, was taken over by the Servites in Innsbruck in 1718.
In 1787 the pilgrimage site was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II. The pietà was moved to Laives, the Servites were removed, and all property and treasures sold. The church was deconsecrated and served as a barn and storage room for wood and other items.
In 1836 the pilgrimage site was purchased back by the Servite Order in Innsbruck, partly on request by the many pilgrims, and the place became a pilgrimage site once more, a place of prayer and an oasis of silence.
In the time of fascism the German monks were replaced by Italian ones and the pilgrimage site was given to the Servite Order in Vicenza, which still looks after it now.
High points of the story of this South Tyrolean pilgrimage site were the elevation of the place of pilgrimage to a basilica minor in 1985 and the visit by Pope John Paul II on 17 July 1988.
Today Pietralba is still a popular destination for pilgrims walking the pilgrimage routes from Aldino, Monte San Pietro, Nova Ponente or Laives.
Inside the church is a magnificent Baroque altar with a copy of the pietà, and in the far section is the chapel that was built on the spot where the pietà was discovered. The paintings are by Adam v. Mölk from Vienna, those in the side chapel by Alfons Siber.