Without doubt it is one of the most important places of worship in the whole of Piedmont: the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sangue in Re stands imposing and majestic on the skyline of the Vigezzo Valley. It owes its origin to the bloodshed from a fresco of the Madonna del Latte (the Nursing Madonna) originally painted on the façade of the small Church of San Maurizio.
On 29th April 1494 a group of young people met in front of the church to play a traditional village game, piodella, which consisted of throwing a flat stone against a wooden cylinder on which a coin was placed. One of them, particularly unlucky in the game, became angry and threw his stone at the church, striking the portrait of Our Lady.
The following morning the fresco of the Madonna began to bleed from her forehead. The blood continued to flow abundantly for about 20 days and many sick and infirm inhabitants of the valley, after strengthening their devotion to the Madonna in Re, healed thanks to miracles, which were officially recognised by the civil and religious authorities of the time.
In 1606 the construction of a larger church began, completed in 1628, but the influx of pilgrims from all over Italy and neighbouring Switzerland required an even larger structure. In 1894, four hundred years after the miracle, it was thus decided to build a sanctuary. Work on the sanctuary didn’t begin until 1922; consecration took place on 5th August 1958.
The celebration of the miracle takes place every year from 29th April to 1st May, with a heart-felt and well-attended pilgrimage on foot from Domodossola.