REDENTORE SUL MONTE ALTINO A MARANOLACima del Redentore, 04023 Formia LT, Italia
The History of the Remedeer on the Mount Altino
With the Encyclical “Praeclara“ of 1894, Pope Leone XIII expressed a negative judgement on the XIX century, which was coming to an end as full of calamities and wars, and he also wished a prosperous and peaceful XX century to the entire world.
His councilor the Earl Acquaderni suggested to him to celebrate the closure of the century with 19 monuments to the Redeemer to place on the most beautiful and panoramic Italian peaks.
A couple of years later Ludovico Pecci, nephew of Pope XIII, asked to modify the idea proposing to look at the future century instead of the past one. Basically he wanted to add another monument to the 19 already expected and he decided to situate one on the Mount Capreo in Carpineto Romano where his uncle who became Pope was born.
So The Pope accepted the idea of placing twenty monuments of the Redeemer on many panoramic peaks to celebrate the XX century which was going to start and, on 1st September 1896, he established a committee made of three people based in Bologna to organize as best as they could the event.
The archbishop of Gaeta Mons.Francesco Niola, urged by the priest of Maranola, Father Vincenzo Ruggiero, promptly suggested The Altino Mount considering his dominant panoramic position, also supported by publications of the weekly periodical owned by Ruggiero “LA CAMPANIA” printed in one of his tipography in Maranola, at that time considered as an autonomous administrative entity.
So the twenty Italian peaks were identified and chosen in an official way, including that of Maranola, which had been the result of the commitment of 46 dioceses in three neighbouring regions (Campania, Molise and a part of Puglia), when in the last days still left for the final decisions, the diocesis of Naples made a backhand on the original decisions and creating problems to the three components of Bologna’s committee, suggesting Mount Vesuvius as a solution to replace Mount Altino.
Thanks to Father Vincenzo Rodrigo’s charisma and diplomatic skills, priest of Maranola and erudite person , the Neapolitan trick was stopped.
Having definitely established the twenty peaks, twenty brick-like stones were drawn out from them, each with specific engraved inscriptions concerning the peak itself and reaching the goal of the Vatican State to use them for the closing of the Holy Door in the Vatican Church (Basilica)in 1900.
The project for Mount Altino was drawn up by the eingeneer Giacinto Mastrojanni,who proposed to build an obelisk ten meters high to set the Statue of the Redeemer four meters including the cross. This project was chosen for its lower cost. On the 23rd of March 1900 the contract was signed by the firm of Rosa Zanazio both for the realization of the cast iron statue and for the works of placement on the shoulder of Mount Altino side at 1.252 mt that in the future will be called Monte Redentore.
It was agreed that the statue would be made in four parts joined together and weighing no more than four quintals per element, but things went differently. The statue was fused at the Tuse Mense Foundry in Paris in a single block and with a total weight of twenty-one quintals.
These unexpected details at the end of the merger, troubled the Pharmacist Saverio Riccardelli, director of the “Local Organizing Committee” thinking of the difficulties to overcome both for the transport and for the placement and above all because there was no road between Maranola and the peak of the Mount Altino.
The statue arrived in Formia in September 1900 by rail, through Cassino way and by the railway line Sparanise-Formia-Gaeta because the direct Rome-Naples had not yet been built.
The precious monument was transported with a huge cart made available by a farmer of the Municipality of Elena in Gaeta, pulled by four oxen to Maranola. There it was kept in the Annunziata Church throughout the winter period that was used to prepare a 12 km way to connect Maranola to Mount Altino.
On the 4th June 1901 the Statue began the uphill journey resting on a sled specially built sled and always pulled by oxen and hundreds of people who after forty days reached the summit, although the actual days of transport were fourteen.
It wasn’t easy to place on the ten-meter-high obelisk which was set on a natural dome at 1,252 meters above the sea level. It was necessary to build an enormous wooden scaffolding around the already erected obelisk and made in several steps on the north side to get the gradual raising of the heavy statue.
Thanks also to the physical strength of several volounteers from Maranola who helped the employees of the Rosa-Zanazio Company and under the personal direction of Don Vincenzo Ruggiero, this “pharaonic” work was carried out.
On 29 July 1901 a lightning rod was placed on the Cross and, to announce the happy event, 33 shots were fired with a cannon lent by the Municipality of Esperia.
After six years and many pilgrimages from every part of Italy, during the night of the 29th of October 1907 a lighting struck the obelisk and the statue, which became headless. The old men from Maranola tell that the head rolled over the long Channel , it was picked up and brought to the Church of the Holy Annunziata.
In the meantime the tragic event of the first World War was coming and only twelve years after, on September 1919, at the ending of the war, the restoration desired by the parish priest Don Carlo Piccolini, who took over after Don Vincenzo Ruggiero, came to conclusion.
The project of restoration brought the last version of the church, with a dome made of masonry to substitute the original high obelisk, always designed by the engineer Giacinto Mastroianni and built by the Mancinelli brothers’ firm coming from Esperia, whose descendents realized after the war the highest building in Formia, next to Largo Paone’square .
These had been the “extraordinary labors” of Maranola’s citizens to carry and set the Statue of the Redeemer which overlooks a geographic space that goes from the Circeo area to the Vesuvio volcan and opposite to it the notorious Capri’s islands, Ischia, Procida, Santo Stefano, Ventotene, Zannone, Ponza and Palmarola.
Among the twenty monuments which were planned to be built, only four weren’t completed because of unexpected difficulties, maybe even few than those needed with the statue of Monte Altino.
I dare say that “Don Vincenzo Ruggiero and the tenacity from the Maranolesi” avoided that the undone works were five instead of four.
I’ve just pointed out the main points of the story by taking account of a very detailed article by Gerardo De Meo on the illustrated History of Formia and from an anastatic copy from the review “La Campania” from the 31st of July 1901, given me away from my friend Gabriele D’Anella.
This political and religious weekly periodical, priced 5 cents, was printed on the 3rd or 4th August 1901 in Maranola.
The Director of the review was the archpriest Vincenzo Ruggiero of Maranola.
That’s really one of the many extraordinary stories of our territory of Monti Aurunci and of the Gulf.