Sanctuary of the Oak
Località la Quercia (VT)
The Sanctuary of the Oak is the prime site of Marian devotion in the province of Viterbo, as well as being one of the most spectacular and historically important. The first stone of the Sanctuary was laid in 1467. Nearby, according to tradition, an icon of the "Virgin Mary with a Child in her arms", painted on a tile, had been placed among the branches of an oak tree, with miraculous consequences. The painting was commissioned in 1417 to the painter Monetto.
The Sanctuary has a simple façade with three doorways, crowned by terracotta lunettes. Andrea Della Robbia designed the facade, while the tall bell tower to the right, detached from the main structure, is by Ambrogio da Milano.
The church interior is a masterpiece of Renaissance harmony. The three naves are separated by two rows of columns supporting large round arches. The beautiful coffered ceiling of the central nave was created by Giovanni di Pietro, known as Pazera, following a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Pope Paul III’s coat of arms, and the lilies of his Farnese family, were added in 1536 when, at his own expense, he commissioned the sumptuous gilding. A marble aedicule by Andrea Bregno stands at the centre of the presbytery. It houses the miraculous tile and oak branch it was lodged on. Behind the tabernacle, though now only two thirds its original length, a magnificent choir opens up, inlaid by Francesco di Domenico di Zanobi del Tasso and Giuliano di Giovanni known as Pollastra.
The complex is enriched by two cloisters, one from the 15th, the other from the 16th century.
Piazza del Santuario
Località la Quercia, Viterbo (VT)
7am to 12pm, 3.30pm to 7.30pm
During Mass visits to the Sanctuary are suspended.
Photography is allowed.
The Sanctuary can be reached by cotral bus on the Viterbo-Vitorchiano line, and the urban line 6 (Viterbo-Bagnaia) from Viterbo, stopping in the square in front of the monument.
Free parking in the square in front.
The route is entirely accessible.