The sanctuary is situated in the territory of Settefrati to m. 1030 above sea level about 10 km of road from the town center. It is an ancient destination of pilgrimage from Lazio, Campania, by 'Abruzzo and Molise, particularly intense between August 20 and 22. It belongs to the diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo.
As long ago as 1288 the church owned land that became the source of its wealth and was known, over the centuries, as the "Benefit of the Chapel of St. Mary at Canneto." The faithful have always been very generous, increasingly so over the years, towards their Madonna. This has been documented since the beginning of the 9th century.
The church was rebuilt and expanded many times, to the extent that it is impossible now to determine the original nucleus. It is likely the central portal.
In 1288 a Benedictine monastery was erected near it. In 1475, in order to encourage the faithful to resume visiting it and contribute to the cost of restoration, the Holy See endowed it with indulgences for certain liturgical feasts.
In 1693 the name of the first benefactor appears: Cristoforo Bartolucci of Picinisco, who as an ex voto, had an artistic polychrome niche painted on the central altar, dedicated to the Madonna.
In 1857, restoration was undertaken and the temple of Mary began to take on its final shape as we see it now. At that time the church had three naves with stone vaults, three exits and a portal on the front. Inside the church, there were two altars; the urn of the Madonna was ensconced in one of them. The urn was made of carved wood and closed by crystal panels, and was donated by devout parishioners of Roccasecca and Caprile.
The bill of the restoration was largely footed by Ferdinand II, the King of Naples, with the help of the people of Settefrati as it can be read on the plaque applied to the central entry of the church before the construction of the new Sanctuary.
Between 1821 and 1849 the temple was further enlarged, incorporating the two portals that opened on the sides, as a development and a continuation of the one on the front of the church. Also during those years, the great hermit of Canneto ie Agnese Massarella, undertook the construction of the Pilgrim's House .
From 1921 to 1923 the stones for the main plaza in front of the church were cut and laid.
From 1951 to 1968 the following works were completed: extension of the church with the construction of a new apse and sacristy in the underground floor ( designed by the engineer, Mr. Terenzio of Settefreti); the marble throne of the Madonna (designed by Prof. Capocci of Settefrati); the marble banister and the electrical wiring of the complex.
The Statue of the Madonna
This is a wooden structure: brown face and prenetrating eyes. In the tradition of Marian iconography, it is related to the ancient theme of the Madonna with Child enthroned.
The Madonna (height 170 cm) is made of elm wood, the child (height 40 cm) of walnut. The unusual colouring is due to a coating of plaster smoothed and painted (dark enamel). A number of restoration carried out over the years have altered the original features. On the basis of a few elements of style that are particularly salient, we can attribute the following characteristics to the statue of the Madonna of Canneto: it is a wood carving made in the 6th century, in the Byzantine style, very popular, probably the work of a wood-carver from the Abruzzo region.
On march 19, 1948 the Madonna was taken from its ancient niche in the Sanctuary for the "Peregriantio Mariae". Six years later, on September 19, 1954, the much venerated statue was solemnly crowned at Sora by Cardinal Aloisi Masella, at the end of the 1st Interdiocesan Marian Congress, in the presence of an immense crowd that flocked to the area from all over the place.
The cult of the blessed Virgin Mary
In the valley of Canneto there once stood a temple, near the source of the Melfa, to the pagan divinity, a few centuries before the birth of Christ. The Italic divinity dispelled evil spirits and many findings scattered throughout the valley provide evidence that Canneto has been a sacred place for over two thousand years.
The first reliable document that mentions a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Canneto valley is dated 819 (a papal bull of Pasquale I) and is found in the "Chronicon" of the Monastery of St.. Vincent at Volturno, the great Benedictine abbey that flourished at the beginning of the 8th century near the springs of Volturno on the Rocchetta plain, just below the great rocky outcropping of Meta where the abbey still stands.
In 1288, the church of Canneto had an annex consisting of a monastery founded by the Benedictines, with a regular community presided over by an Abbot and endowed with ecclesiastical benefits.
In 1392, the archives of the abbey listed the members of the community as: the Abbot, Br. Giacomo di Angelo, Br. Jacques de Angelo, Br. Biagio Mecerelle, Br. Biagio Mecerelle, Br. Nicola and Br. Nicola and Br. Biagio di Stefano. Biagio di Stefano. Actually, at that time the monks no longer lived at Canneto, but in the small town of Settefrati, from whence they continued to supervise the Sanctuary. The monastery, by then completely abandoned, would never be rebuilt.
On November 25, 1475, Cardinals of St. Bartholomew. Clement and Giuliano of St. Clement and Giuliano of St.. Peter in Chains, who later became pope Julius II, granted an indulgence of 100 days.
At this time, a number of Abbots who where mainly appointed as merely ecclesiastical commandants, succeeded one another, enjoying the fruits of the benefits without any obligation to reside there. This abuse was one of the plagues of the Church and was finally uprooted by the Council of Trento (1545-1563).
From the second half of the 13th century, the church of Canneto, was put under the direction of Montecassino Abbey. After the Council of Trent, it was united with all its wealth to the Seminary of Sora, by the bishop of Sora, Thomas Gigli (1561-1577). Ever since, it has kept that status (a good four centuries), until now.
Since 1972, on account of its enormous spiritual development, especially in the last ten years, it has its own management and administration. - www.madonnadicanneto.it