Santuario della Madonna dell'Aiuto
Deep in the wood, the Sanctuary stays in the shade of a centuries-old lime tree
At a stone's throw from Segonzano, the Sanctuary of the Madonna dell'Aiuto is a little church located deep in the woods, and overshadowed by a huge centuries-old lime tree. The church was built as a shelter for the painting of the Madonna dell'Aiuto, which was brought here around 1682. A copy of Lukas Cranach's "Mariahilf" housed in the Church of St. James in Innsbruck, the painting was commissioned and taken to Segonzano by Baron Francesco Ferdinando a Prato, a canon of Passau Cathedral. The painting is very similar to the numerous images of the Mariahilf featured by the churches, chapels and private houses of Alpine towns and cities, such as Vienna.
As with other numerous Alpine foundations, it was the picture itself that indicated the exact location where its shrine should be built. A shepherd is supposed to have found it under odd circumstances inside a juniper tree, and to have taken it to the parish church. The painting soon disappeared only to reappear on the spot where the chapel was later erected. The shrine soon became a pilgrimage venue, with people flocking there to pray and make votive offerings - which enabled the curates of Segonzano, around 1861, to significantly expand the chapel.