The library of the Capuchin monastery Madonna del Sasso in Orselina near Locarno in Ticino contains more than 15,000 books.
The eight-year cataloging work of the collection was supported by the association Pro Restauro Sacro Monte di Orselina with the participation of the Capuchins of Italian Switzerland and with the financial support of the canton of Ticino. It was produced by the competence center for antiquarian books of the Biblioteca Salita dei Frati in Lugano.
Project staff member Laura Luraschi explains that this guarantees the protection of the works, their knowledge and their value. Sixty percent of Orselina’s books deal with religious subjects.
An important part of the works relates to history and literature. Cataloging revealed some rare items, including the 14th-century Liber Conformitatum written by Bartholomew of Pisa, which draws parallels between the life of Christ and that of St. Francis of Assisi.
The library of the Madonna del Sasso monastery brings together the preserved heritage of four collections of old books: that of the monastery of San Francesco in Locarno, founded around 1230, that of the Franciscans of the Madonna del Sasso (around 1480), that of the Capuchins of San Rocco of Locarno (1602 ) and finally that of the Capuchins who moved to Orselina in 1848.
The collection is strong with several 16th-century editions (c. 500) and includes 33 incunabula and some thirty post-incunabula. It also keeps four medieval manuscripts from the monastery of San Francesco in Locarno, property of the State and the Canton of Ticino.
The Madonna del Sasso overlooking Lake Maggiore is the most visited Marian shrine in Italian-speaking Switzerland. According to tradition, this sanctuary was founded after the apparition of the Virgin Mary to the Franciscan Friar Bartolomeo Piatti of Ivrea, on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption in 1480.
From his window in the monastery of St. Francis of Locarno, founded in 1230, he saw Mary appearing on this hill, he continues. She asked him to build a place there dedicated to Marian devotion. The Italian Franciscan thus fulfilled the wish of Our Lady. There he spent the last 30 years of his life as a hermit.
At the top of the hill the first two chapels were built: one dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the oldest part of the current church – and the other, a little further away, called La Pietà. Both churches were consecrated in 1487.
In addition to the Basilica of the Assumption, Madonna del Sasso houses the Capuchin Convent, as well as a small museum that traces the history of this place and its heritage.