On June 3rd of each year the Madonna of the Letter is celebrated in Messina with great devotion by all the people of Messina. In 1934 a stele was built at the entrance to the port of Messina, at the base of which the phrase “Vos et ipsam Civitatem benedicimus” is written in large letters.
But how was the cult of the Madonna of the Letter born?
According to tradition, St. Paul arrived in Messina to spread the Word of God, the population converted to Christianity and when Paul returned to Palestine some Messina people followed him to meet the Virgin in person and ask for her protection. They were greeted by Mary who handed them a letter, written in Hebrew rolled up and tied with a lock of her hair. It was June 3rd of the year 42 A.D. In this letter the Madonna assured protection to the whole city of Messina.
Today the lock of hair is kept in the Cathedral of the city of Messina and is exhibited on the day of Corpus Domini set in the mast of a small silver galleon. On the afternoon of June 3 of each year, the silver statue created by the sculptor Lio Gangeri is carried in procession through the main streets of the city by hundreds of faithful dressed in white.
And this year, finally, after 2 years of pandemic, the awaited procession will return to purify the spirit of all the devotees of Messina.