The Madonna of the Snow

FOTO 037The “Madonna of the Snow” is a young lady that stands out against the blue sky on the rock at the Monte Moro Pass – Macugnaga, at 2950 m of altitude, at a short distance to the Swiss border.

The inauguration was 50 years ago, on 5th August 1966, with the participation of the major civil and ecclesiastic authorities of the area. The sculpture was blessed by the bishop of Novara, the monsignor Vittorio Piola, and by the priest of Macugnaga, don SistoBighiani.

The sculpture was commissioned by the managers of “ San Maurizio” Cable Cars, a group of industrialist from Gallarate and Busto Arsizio, lovers of the mountain and  friends of Macugnaga, that would like to improve the tourism and the ski and alpine activities of the region.

The request was to built “something” that would bright in the sky and that would be visible also in the distance, from both the Italy and the Switzerland, and that would be able to resist the wind, often present, as well as the bad weather.

Thus the project of a long-limbed lady, five metres high, with two drapes on her arms, separated from the body, allowing the wind to across the sculpture kindly brushing it.

In the winter 1965 the project was finished and the sculptor started the work in his atelier in Samarate. A specialised company built a multi-level scaffolding and the Giuseppe Banda’s atelier become a construction yard.

At the beginning it was build a scaffold, made of intertwine and of different dimension iron strands, on which, step by step, the shapeless mass of clay started to have a shape. The sculpture, so huge, was an attraction, also for the classes.

Finished the clay modelling, the “Madonna” was covered by gypsum, cut in pieces and send to the Perego Artistic Foundry in Jenner Street in Milano to be melt in bronze.

Arrived in Macugnaga, the pieces of sculpture had to be moved on the top of the mountain, what a challenge
People thought to a helicopter, but it was too much dangerous. Thus its transfer by the cable car from Macugnaga to the “Lago Smeraldo“ refuge and above the shoulders of willing men up to the top of the Monte Moro.
On the top of the mountain, specialised workmen welded the different pieces and the sculpture took the shape.

The sculpture base of 5 m high was realised by stone broke on site.
After thirty years, the sculpture lose its bright, and the need to a new maintenance appeared clear.

The mangers of the new Monte Rosa Cable Car Societythought about it. Indeed, don Giovanni Zibetti, expert and regular of Macugnaga for decades, showed the desire to clean and gild the sculpture in order to make it again “bright”, also in the memory of the gold mine in the valley.

In the June 1997 the sculpture was closed in a scaffold and the Cubro Foundry of Novate Milanese gilded it with golden leaves.
On 5th August 1997 the cardinal Carlo maria Martini blessed the golden sculpture.