One of our family ‘Summer rites’ is taking our daughter Costanza to Beato Sante on ‘Children Blessing Day’ on the first Sunday of August. While in the Marche – and especially during your stay in the province of Pesaro and Urbino (land of Rossini and Raphael) – you may want to visit the convent of Beato Sante (‘Blessed Sante’), close to Mombaroccio and not far from Sant’Angelo in Lizzola, in the hinterland of Pesaro: a real ‘patch of Heaven’.
The convent, built on top of Scotaneto hill – deriving its name from ‘scotani’ (Rhus cotinus, aka Eurasian smoketree, smoke tree or smoke bush) – dates back to the year 1223. It was one of the first Franciscan seats in the Marche region, erected while Saint Francis was still alive. Later on it underwent major changes and the convent we see today dates mostly back to the 17th century, apart from a few still preserved original parts.
Giansante Brancorsini (the ‘Beato Sante’), born of a noble family in Montefabbri, close to Urbino, moved there in 1370 after killing a man in self-defense, in order to expiate his sins. He gained popularity thanks to his strong faith and to the many prodiges achieved while alive (among which the taming of a wolf; the miracle of an oak tree which, after receiving his blessing, started producing acrons with a little cross on them). Today it is a destination for pilgrimages and – to me – is a ‘patch from Heaven’ (both spiritually and phsycally, as I love to find my inner peace there, surrounded by centuries-old woods).
In the month of August many religious initiatives take place: the ‘Perdono d’Assisi’ (the Forgivness of Assisi) on Aug 2nd; ‘Children Blessing Day’ on the first Sunday of the month, etc. We took Costanza to Beato Sante on ‘Children Blessing Day’ on Aug 3rd this year and we loved recollecting – with a mix of tenderness and astonishment – when our daughter last year, after receiving her blessing, turned to me and with a serious look on her face told me her secret: ‘I am a blessed girl because I come from Heaven, and landed in India’. My sister’s comment to her words, muttered straight-faced, was: ‘a very interesting religious syncretism’.
The church hosts important paintings such as the ‘Madonna adoring the child’ (Marche school from the 15th century), and a sumptuous painted cross dating also to the 15th century. On the right of the main altar, you find the chapel where the body of the ‘Blessed Sante’ is preserved. There is a little museum attached to the convent, and the convent library hosts about 5000 books, among which precious books from the 16th century.