The Sacro Cuore statue on Mount Motta

by Simona Gusmeroli

The vow

Candida next to the statue of the Sacro Cuore.

The story of the statue of the Sacro Cuore on Mount Motta originally began way back in 1959.

This was the year in which the two Vetti brothers and their sister (Secondo, Costantino and Fiorentina) from Ganda (Lanzada) decided to show their gratitude to the Lord for a favour they had received.

Their mother, Candida, was seriously ill and her son, Secondo, made a vow: if a priest were to arrive in time to give his dying mother the last rites, he would somehow have shown the Lord his gratitude.

This is what happened.

His mother not only received the Holy Sacrament, but also fully recovered and lived healthily for many years. In order to keep their vow, the three children decided to erect a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The laying of the statue

Celebration of the first mass at the Sacro Cuore.

The choice of the most suitable position fell on Mount Motta (2,335 m), barycentre of the Valmalenco, from where you get a complete view of the entire Valley.

The initiative involved the Vetti children's friends and acquaintances, and numerous volunteers offered to transport and place the statue into position.
In fact, to carry a life-size, bronze statue up there at that time was certainly no mean feat. The skilifts, which currently reach the summit, had not yet been built and the only tarmaced road which could be reached by truck ended at San Giuseppe.

From here, the group proceeded with a special handcart, which they pulled as far as the higher pastures of Barchi (1,600 m). They then continued with the statue over their shoulders, across Lake Palù and then on up to the summit.

We mustn't forget that in addition to the statue, they also had to carry the material needed to erect the statue on the summit, where they were going to position it. Finally, on 26 July 1959 everything was ready.

Don Luigi Morcelli, the parish priest of Lanzada at the time, blessed and celebrated the 1st Mass at the foot of the statue of the Sacred Heart in the presence of numerous believers from the valley.

As testimony of the event, the family members kept a copy of a "notebook", signed and with comments from those taking part. The original is still kept in the base of the statue.

A bronze plaque was placed on the side of the stone support facing Lanzada, bearing the following simple prayer:

Sacred heart of Jesus, from the summit of this mountain bless the inhabitants of the valley.
In this valley of landslides, avalanches and floods, protect us.
Bless and protect the pilgrim who comes up here to worship you.
Bless the herdsman from near and far, who lets his cattle graze on these mountains.
Bless the farmer who, with his hard work, is always close to you.
Bless the woodcutter, the quarryman, the miner, bless the mountaineer and the skier.
Save the dying and comfort the infirm.
O Sacred Heart, bless and protect he who is born and who dies in this valley.
Prayer of the Sacred Heart.

The tradition continues

Annual celebration of the anniversary.

From then on, every year on the last Sunday in July, Holy Mass is celebrated on the summit at the foot of the statue.

The only year they did not come up to commemorate the event was in 1987 (year of the flooding in Valtellina). By sheer coincidence, lightning hit the base of the statue and made it fall. Luckily it did not fall down the precipice at its feet facing Cima Sassa, and instead fell towards the mountain slope behind.

At this point, a "notebook" was found inside the base with the signatures of the participants who had celebrated the first holy Mass. It was replaced when the new support for the statue was built.

In 2009, a large festival was organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the date the statue was first placed in position.
The service was led by Mgr. Giuliano Zanotta, Vicar General of the dioceses of Como, accompanied by the parish priest of Lanzada at the time, don Renato Lanzetti, and by the missionaries of Lanzada, don Lindo Rossi and father Luigi Sertore.

A large number of people climbed up to commemorate the event, and among the many authorities present was the Prefect of Sondrio in office at the time, Chiara Marolla, the various mayors of the valley and representatives of numerous military, sports and voluntary associations working in the area.