In July some friends and I accidentally discovered a Schubert concert was playing the same evening we arrived in the beautiful Sanctuario di Oropa in Piedmont. Turns out not all those who wander are lost.
The New Ark Orchestra with the Choir Academy of the Voice of Piedmont was rehearsing the ”Kýrie eléison” (“Lord, have mercy!”) from Schubert’s Mass in G Major D.167, in the Chiesa Nuova of the Sanctuario di Oropa in Biella, Italy. Behind them is a painting of the black wooden statue of the Virgin Mary brought to Oropa in the 4th century A.D. by Saint Eusebius of Vercelli. The statue, enshrined in the ancient church below the upper basilica, has been an object of veneration ever since.
The text along the base of the cupola is part of the Magnificat, or the Song of Mary, which Mary exclaims to her cousin Elizabeth who declared, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). Mary replies (the inscribed text is capitalized),
“Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
QUIA RESPEXIT HUMILITATEM ANCILLAE SUAE.
ECCE ENIM EX HOC BEATAM ME DICENT OMNES GENERATIONES,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies
“My soul glorifies my Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour,
BECAUSE HE LOOKED ON HIS SERVANT IN HER LOWLINESS;
HENCEFORTH ALL GENERATIONS WILL CALL ME BLESSED.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.”