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The Chapel of Icona Passatora
Amatrice medieval town center is famous not only for its wonderful 13th-century square tower, St. Francis Romanesque-style church, and the 14th-century St. Augustine church, but also for being the hometown of Cola dell'Amatrice, one of the most important artists of Central Italy (1480 - 1547). Painter and architect during the Renaissance period, he trained himself in Rome, at the school of Bramante and Raffaello. Among the others, his works include the Holy Family preserved in Amatrice, Campli and Falignano altarpiece, and the fa├žade of the Cathedral in Ascoli.
During the Renaissance period, also the rural chapel and sanctuary of "Icona Passatora", situated in loc. Retrosi and facing Laga Mountains, was frescoed. The chapel has been named after the votive image of the Madonna of the Graces, a work - like the other precious frescoes - by the so-called "Maestro of the Madonna of the Mercy" and by Dionisio Cappelli, a painter from Amatrice. The sanctuary was built in the late 15th century in a place already housing in the 13th century a votive chapel with the image of the Madonna (Icon) at a crossroads along the road leading to Laga Mountains (Passatora). Until the 1960s, behind the church it was possible to admire the so-called "Cerro della Cona", a wonderful oak over 30m high and at least 500 years old. The presence of the tree, linked like in many other cases to the Madonna, led to think that Icona Passatora was born from the grafting of the Christian worship in a pre-existing pagan area. However, according to the popular tradition, it is linked to a miraculous rescue by the Madonna of a girl threatened by a wolf.