Some of the places of Cagliari most visited by tourists, and not only, are certainly the shrine and basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria, located on a small hill overlooking the district of Villanova.
Erected in 1323/1324, the sanctuary is the only surviving part of the settlement created by the Aragonese during the siege of Cagliari and Sardinia and shows in the apse the original Gothic-Catalan style built in white limestone, extracted from the same hill .
A destination for frequent pilgrimages is known throughout the island for the wooden simulacrum that according to legend would miraculously landed on the nearby beach in 1370. It is said that a ship that flanked the Gulf of Cagliari was struck by a violent and sudden storm such that the captain ordered the cargo to be thrown into the sea in order to lighten the boat.
The heavy chest, containing the statue, once thrown into the sea, remained afloat.
So it was that once the storm stopped the sailors tried to recover it, perhaps intrigued, but they tried in vain, while two friars were able to transport it easily in their temple. Once opened, they were amazed to see the beautiful statue of the Madonna and Child Jesus in her arms and in her free hand a lit candle that burned the tip of the statue’s fingers.
The contiguous basilica, begun in 1704, preserves the influence of the Piedmontese baroque in the structure and in the architectural structure. It is imposing as a cathedral and scenic for its dominant position and the wide staircase. It is the church where the most important religious ceremonies of the city are usually held.
During the year, we celebrate Our Lady of Bonaria, Patron Maximum of Sardinia in three dates.
March 25th is celebrated the miraculous arrival of the simulacrum on the shores of Cagliari.
April 24th is celebrated on the liturgical day for the celebration of the feast of the Patroness Maximus, decided by Pope St. Pius X.
While the day that all the inhabitants of Cagliari are waiting for is the first Sunday of July, the day after a short but heartfelt procession from the Basilica to the Pier Ichnusa, the Madonna is loaded on a tugboat and takes a trip around the Gulf of Cagliari.
Once offshore, addressed to all the faithful, from a helicopter are thrown into the sea crowns of blessed flowers, giving very suggestive images, while the sailors greet and thank their protectress by resounding the ships.