The Blessed Mother Speranza of Jesus, left the House of the Handmaids of Merciful Love in 1951, since she knew that the mission entrusted to her by the Lord will not have ended in Rome, in Via Casilina, with the sole organization of this House.
Reading the notes in her diary, we can read that she had already had the premonition, in 1949, of being destined to create a place that welcomed all and that would be a concrete symbol of the Love and the Mercy of God towards all of his children, an open place to all who wish to find comfort and hope.
Collevalenza, a place in Umbria, only 120 km away from Rome, in a hill just above the city of Todi, was chosen.
Inspired by the Lord, in this place, Mother Speranza of Jesus chose to build the Sanctuary of Merciful Love. It was 1951 and our Mother settled there, along with other Handmaids and her Children.
It was only surrounded by woods, rocks and uncultivated nature. A long and harsh job awaited them to build the place where “God was waiting for men, not as a judge to condemn them and to inflict punishment, but as a loving Father, who loves, forgives and forgets the offenses he received and doesn’t take them into account.”
Building what any pilgrim can now see, starting from nothing, was an act of profound faith and conviction. The works began in 1954, and, a year later, the Chapel of the Crucifix was finished. On the 28th of September, 1959, the church was erected as the Sanctuary by the Bishop of Todi, and after that the Church, the Crypt, the bell Tower and the Piazza were built.
The spiritual sense of this Sanctuary, so strongly desired by the Blessed Mother Speranza, is maybe found in the Chapel of the Crucifix, the first work to be finished: the sculpture of the crucifix, made by the Spanish artist Cullot Valera, represents the image of the calvary of Jesus of Merciful Love, and remembers the extreme sacrifice he carried out. A globe, that represents the whole world, is found at the base of the Cross and holds an open book, the Gospel. “Love each other as I’ve loved you”, is the phrase written in it. This exhortation by Jesus makes us understand how he wishes to reign over the world, bringing love.
“Shall this water be the figure of your grace and your mercy”
The Miraculous Water of the Sanctuary comes from a water flow found 122 meters deep into the ground. Finding it was a true miraculous event. Mother Speranza, inspired by God, indicated its position and the water that flows endlessly is material proof, and a symbol visible to everybody, of Divine Grace. The finality of this water source for the Sanctuary is not only symbolic, however.
“The virtue of saving the sick, the poor that do not have means, even without a drop of water”, was attributed to it.
This is what is written in the Prayer for the Sanctuary, as pronounced by Mother Speranza.
The fact that this water can heal the body, besides the spirit, was demonstrated by a miracle performed by Mother Speranza: a child that suffered from a harsh allergy, who was almost dying, recovered completely after drinking from the Sanctuary’s water.
The whole building of the Sanctuary was honored with the title of minor Basilica in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, who always had a special bond with the place.
Mother Speranza was beatified by Pope Francisco in 2013, with a ceremony that took place in Collevalenza on May 31st, 2014.