Madonna del Ghisallo Medal “Patroness Saint of Cyclists” (bronze or silver)
The Blessed Virgin Mary, as Madonna Del Ghisallo first became known by a medieval nobleman named Count Ghisallo who lived in Magreglio Italy.
One day, Count Ghisallo realized he was being followed by a gang of rogues who were intent on robbing him. Spotting an image of the Virgin Mary under a tree
in a roadside shrine at the top of a hill, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, prayed for Our Lady‘s protection – and was miraculously saved.
As the story spread the rescuing apparition became known as the “Madonna del Ghisallo.” Travelers and cyclists began to stop
(where the Madonna first appeared to Count Ghisallo) to rest and pray at the hilltop chapel, which was built in 1623.
Over time, Our Lady became duly revered by cyclists who would make pilgrimages to her Chapel. The cyclists began leaving their racing jerseys, pennants from their riding clubs,
bicycles, and other memorabilia related to cycling. The cyclists also brought photographs of their friends and family members who had been injured or died while on their bicycles.
After World War II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, local pastor at the chapel shrine, proposed Madonna del Ghisallo be made the Patroness Saint of Cyclists, which was confirmed by Pope Pius XII in 1943. The devotion to Our Lady never waned and soon there were so many pieces of biking artifacts being left in her honor, it became necessary to create the Museo del Ciclismo next to the chapel.
This hilltop site has since become equal part religious shrine and cycling museum, with artifacts and historical photos from the sport.
There is an eternal flame that burns bright in remembrance of all those who have been injured or killed while cycling as well as for those who love the sport or simply enjoy bike riding!
The chapel is now a well-known Italian landmark, and the mountain road in which it guards is part of the Giro di Lombardia bicycle race.
The Feast of All Souls Day, on November 2, is also the Feast Day of Our Lady of Ghisallo.
Many make pilgrimages to the Ghisallo Chapel / Museum on that day to honor the Madonna and the sport of cycling.
LA MADONNA TE PROTEGGA is inscribed on the medal’s front side and translates to mean, Madonna (Mary mother of Jesus) protect us.
The backside depicts the tree where the Madonna appeared, the chapel and the cycling museum.
Inscribed are the words RICORDO SANTUARIO del GHISALLO, which mean: In remembrance of the sanctuary given to Count del Ghisallo.