In the first half of the 16th century, a poor widow, mother of three girls, took care every day, for a month, of an image of the Madonna painted in a niche in the wall of the city, located near a small gate called Porticella. Her gesture was gratified daily by a gift she found in the niche, a coin and a loaf of bread.
The place soon became a destination for pilgrimages, and it was decided to build a small chapel in which to place the image of the Virgin. The structure was named, at first, Santa Maria della Porticella.
In the last decades of the 16th century, the structure was expanded, and the new church changed its name to Santa Maria della Stella (Saint Mary of the Star). The local bourgeoisie was responsible for the decoration of the interior and for the private chapels of the church.
Probably damaged by the earthquake of 1743, despite some interventions made in 1812, the church was closed for worship in 1835 and soon collapsed. Between 1835 and 1838, the current church was built.
Other restorations were made in 1933, between 1939 and 1943, and the most recent on the occasion of the restoration of the city walls, between 1998 and 2000.
The church has a simple form, with a plain facade oriented towards Viale Oronzo Quaranta, interrupting the continuity of the city walls. The portal, framed by a double cornice, is completed by a broken tympanum above, on which is placed the statue of the Madonna della Stella. The same decoration, without the statue, is repetead at the top of the facade.
The church, with a single nave, is divided into two spaces separated by an arch. The presbytery area is covered by a cross vault with rounded corners. The nave is dominated by a barrel vaulted lunette, supported by semi-piers in stone, which stand out against the white plastering of the walls.
On the right wall of the presbytery, you can see the painting of the Madonna della Stella, a faithful reproduction of the image in the niche of the Porticella.
HOW TO GET THERE
The church is located in Via Clemente Leonardo, at the northern limit of the historical center of Ostuni, about 350 meters away from the nearest bus station from Via Giuseppe Pisanelli. To find it easily on foot, use the map below.