MESSINA 1728 -- ORTOLANO, Giovanni. Trionfo di fede, d'ossequio Guidatio sul Coechio della Magnificenza. Ovvero distinto Ragguaglio Delle Pompe Festive apparecchiate quest'Anno 1728. dalla Nobile, Fedelissima, ed Essemplare Città di Messina, In Onore sua Benedetta Protettrice Maria della Sacra Lettera, consacrato all'Eccellentissimo Signore Otto Ferdinando di Abensperg, et Traun. Messina: Michele Chiaramonte and Antonino Provenzano, 1728.
4o (245 x 178 mm). 15 engraved plates (8 folding, 2 double-page) by GIUSEPPE DI NAPOLI, FRANCESCO ARENA and SALVATORE DONIA after COMENICO ALEMI, PIETRO CIRINO and DONATO NAPOLI (plates 4 and 7 on new guards, 8 with foremargin renewed). (Pale stain on title.) Original flexible paper boards.
An exceptional series of plates depicting this festival in Messina in honor of the Blessed Virgin. The most famous treasure of the cathedral at Messina is the sacred "Letter from the Virgin Mary," which is regarded by the people with reverence, and is said to have effected countless cures. It is believed to date from the time when St. Paul came to Sicily, and preached to the inhabitants of Messina a sermon on the character of the Madonna. So deep an impression was made by this discourse on the Messinians, that they resolved to send to the Virgin (who was then still living) a deputation to solicit her protection. Touched by their piety, she replied to them in writing. Her letter, originally in Hebrew, was translated by St. Paul into Greek, which was then the language of Messina; and, later still, in 1467, the scholar Constantine Lescaris rendered this Pauline version into Latin, which is the version tourists now see, framed and inscribed in golden letters, at the back of the high altar. Every year on the third of June (the day on which the letter is dated), as well as on the fifteenth of August, the festival of the Virgin's Assumption, the sacred document is carried through Messina's streets, to the strains of martial music, in a long procession of nobles, city officials, companies of infantry and cavalry, orders of monks and nuns, and an enormous multitude of people. Watanabe 563 (11 engravings only).