Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Tears
The city of Syracuse is packed with beautiful baroque churches and stunning Greek monuments, still standing in defiance of the centuries. But the building which dominates the city’s skyline was built just seventeen years ago. Say hello to the Santuario della Madonna delle Lácrime. Sigh. They just don’t build them like they used to.
For four days in the summer of 1953, an image of Madonna shed tears in Syracuse. News spread quickly and pilgrims from around the world converged upon the city. Immediately, plans were hatched to create a suitable home for the miraculous image. Construction began in 1966 and would last almost 30 years. In 1994, none other than Pope John Paul came to inaugurate the sanctuary.
Jürgen’s attracted to modern architectural monstrosities like a moth to flame, so of course we had to visit. The sanctuary’s bizarre shape is meant to resemble a teardrop from heaven hitting the ground, but to me it looks more like a circus big-top, just less colorful and without any elephants. The bottom floor is darkly lit, and resembles a cave; an ancient Greek road was uncovered while building the church, and its ruins were left intact. There’s a little museum of religious curiosities, filled with things like back-braces which could be thrown off because Little Timmy had prayed so devoutly to the miraculous virgin.
Upstairs is a proper church, which is actually quite stunning. When you’re inside of the church, the tent-like design is an advantage, lifting your eyes straight to the ceiling’s peak, which seems to almost touch heaven.