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The Madonna del Canale festival

The patron saint of Prata is Our Lady of the Assumption, but the protective figure invoked by the entire population is Our Lady of Graces, known as the ‘Madonna del Canale’ and venerated in the oratory located near the Fonte Vecchia, in the Valley of the Carse, approximately half a mile outside the town.
According to legend, the Madonna appeared to shepherds centuries ago, outside the town walls near a canal where water drained off from an old mine, where Fonte Vecchia is now. To mark this miraculous apparition, a shrine was constructed on the spot, hence the strange name of ‘Canale’ (‘canal’) used by Prata’s residents to invoke their Madonna. Inside the shrine, a fresco depicting the Virgin Mary was painted, which faded over time. It was therefore decided to reproduce the image on a canvas placed on the high altar of the Church of Prata. The name of the artist who painted the canvas in 1680 is unknown to us. However the painting seems to have disappeared from the church twice and miraculously reappeared near Fonte Vecchia, almost as if the Madonna were indicating her preference for being venerated there instead. So the people of Prata built the Oratory near Fonte Vecchia so that the painting of the Virgin Mary could be kept there forever and promised to take her back every three years, in a solemn procession.

The festival of Madonna del Canale takes place every Monday in Pentecost, however it is solemnly celebrated every three years.
The festival will be solemnly celebrated in 2012.
In 2012 the painting of Our Lady of Graces will be carried in a procession to the oratory near Fonte Vecchia and then carried back to the church, to mark the promise made to the Virgin Mary to venerate her where she first appeared. The devotion of the people of Prata is heartfelt and even those who have left the town over the years can’t help but return to take part in the celebrations. It is a festival for everyone, with many events and activities organised to celebrate the solemnity of the occasion and a spectacular firework display that ends the high festival, as it is known in Prata, which can be admired from the road that runs along the edge of the medieval town centre, known as the ‘bastione’.