Soaring at 2020 m above sea level, the Sanctuary of Sant’Anna di Vinadio is the first, highest sanctuary in Europe.
The Sanctuary is located on the road which goes from the town of Vinadio to the Colle della Lombarda (a mountain pass that takes you into France).
From its prominent standpoint it overlooks some of the most breathtaking peaks of the Maritime Alps: Punta Maladecia, Testa Gias dei Laghi, Monte Aver, Cima della Lombarda, to name but a few.
It is dedicated to Saint Anne, whose festivity is celebrated on July 26th, a day in which both the Virgin Mary’s parents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, are remembered.
Oil on wood depicting the life of Sant’Anna – 1865 (detail)
This Sanctuary was originally one of the church-shelters built by the Catholic Church between the XI and XII centuries. These were located in alpine areas to give refuge to travellers on foot. It was initially dedicated to Maria Brasca.
Legend has it that Saint Anne appeared to a young girl called Anna Bagnis who was hearding her sheep and instructed her as to where to build the sanctuary. Today there is a statue that commemorates the apparition which took place some 500 meters from the Sanctuary on the road that leads to the Sainte Anne pass.
The cult of Saint Anne became widespread in Piedmont in the first half of the 1400s.