One of the most visited places of Cagliari from tourists and not only, are certainly the basilica and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, located on a small hill overlooking the district of Villanova.
Erected in 1323 – 1324, the sanctuary is the only surviving part of the settlement created by the Aragonese during the siege of Cagliari and Sardinia, and in the apse shows the original Gothic-Catalan style built in white limestone extracted from the same hill . Destination of frequent pilgrimages is known throughout the island for the wooden simulacrum which according to legend would miraculously landed on the nearby beach in 1370. It is said that a ship that ran along the gulf of Cagliari was hit by a violent and sudden storm that the captain ordered him to jettison the cargo in order to lighten the boat. The heavy box containing the statue, once thrown overboard, remained afloat. So upon termination of the storm the sailors tried to retrieve it, perhaps intrigued, but tried in vain, while two brothers were able to easily carry it in their temple. Once opened, they were amazed to see the beautiful statue of the Madonna and baby Jesus in her arms and in her free hand a lighted candle singed the tips of the fingers of the statue.
The adjoining basilica, begun in 1704, preserves the architectural structure in the system and the influence of Piedmont Baroque. It is imposing as a cathedral and impressive for its dominant position and the wide staircase. And ‘the church where usually take place the most important religious ceremonies of the city.
During the year, we celebrate Our Lady of Bonaria, First Patroness of Sardinia in three dates.
On March 25, it is celebrated the miraculous arrival of the statue on the coast of Cagliari.
On April 24, we celebrate the liturgical day for the celebration of the feast of the Patron Saint Max, decided by Pope St. Pius X.
While the day that all Cagliari expect is the first Sunday of July, the day after a brief but heartfelt procession from the Basilica to the Molo Ichnusa, the Madonna is loaded on a tug and completes one revolution in the Gulf of Cagliari. Once you come off, addressed to all the faithful, from a helicopter are thrown into the sea of blessed wreaths, giving very striking images, while the sailors greet and thank their prottettrice sounding ships.