Festa della Madonna Bianca (Feast of the White Madonna) is a religious feast which takes place every year on August 17, in Portovenere, in honor of the White Madonna, the patron saint of the village.
The celebration recalls the miracle of 1399, when, during the French occupation, the seaside village of Portovenere was struck by plague. The tradition states that on August 16, 1399, a certain villager named Lucciardo, while praying in front of the image depicting the Virgin Mary (a discolored parchment drawn by pen), saw the painting suddenly coloured.
Once the plague was over, the miracle was attributed to the Virgin Mary, the painting was transported to the Church of San Lorenzo, and the cult of the White Madonna was initiated.
It is said that the sacred painting of the Virgin Mary was washed ashore in Portovenere, enclosed in a cedar trunk, in 1204. During those times, ships returning from the Holy Land had trunks on board, in which were stored precious objects, which were sealed and thrown into the sea when attacked by pirates.
FESTA DELLA MADONNA BIANCA 2019 will take place, as usual, on the evening of August 17. Around 8.30 pm, a Holy Mass will be held, and starting with 9.15 pm, a torchlight procession will unfold along the streets of the village, carrying the icon of the White Madonna.
On this occasion, the village will be lit by 2000 roman torches, placed mainly on the rocky spur of Punta San Pietro, including the Byron’s Grotto.