The most loved church of this corner of Brembilla Valley, the one which all people have in their hearts is the sanctuary of Madonna della Foppa, whose devotion and building are due to two apparitions of the Virgin to little girls from Gerosa some centuries ago. The church in its simplicity matches perfectly with the peace and calm inspired from the surroundings where it is situated. Inside the church, you can enjoy the sight of the Baroque altar with the wooden choir and two paintings of the Virgin, other paintings on the walls, the votive offerings and the crests of local families.
First apparition: 1st July 1558
It is told that two little girls of the village were grazing their sheep in a valley collateral to the valley of the Mills, in a place named La Foppa. After the whole day spent taking care of the sheep and praying, it was only in the evening that they refreshed themselves with some bread. All of a sudden, the two little girls felt they were ardently thirsty, but they didn’t have water and could not leave the sheep alone. So they knelt down and started to pray. Here is the prodigious event: the Virgin appeared to them! The saint Virgin touched their hands and comforted them with her «celestial smile», showing them a spring of pure water. Then, she ordered them to announce her will to the villagers: to build a church in that spot, then she took leave of them announcing that:
«Within eight days I will come and take you and you will go to paradise». Therefore, people rushed to see the spring... and, above all, they were astonished by the premature death of the two girls after the eight days announced by the Virgin. The villagers of Gerosa started to build the church on the side of the valley, not in the spot of the apparition, to make it visible from the village, but tools and materials disappeared mysteriously. They understood that they had to obey the Virgin. In the end, the church was completed and it was already mentioned in 1575 in the records of the pastoral visit of Saint Carlo Borromeo
Second apparition: 5th August 1630
It was the year of the terrible plague that also the writer Manzoni recounted. As in the rest of Lombardy, the epidemic spread also in Brembilla Valley. The Virgin appeared – this time on a dream – to another girl, Diana Locatelli, who lived in the area of Bura, and she told her to announce that those going to the Sanctuary della Foppa to honour her wouldn’t be infected by the disease. The news spread all over, causing a lot of people from every village and even from the plain near Bergamo to rush there in procession. According to Ghirardelli – an important reporter of those times with his monumental «Il memorando contagio seguito in Bergamo l’anno 1630» – the flow of people was so remarkable that in just two months money offerings and valuables equivalent to 18 thousands francs were collected. The celebration of the sanctuary della Foppa takes place every year on 2nd July, the day Virgin Mary visited Saint Elisabeth. (Text by Giovanni Salvi)