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Bound to the Belt

Five enchanting treasures enrich the city of Prato: the Marian sanctuaries, witnesses of miraculous events linked to the Virgin, dating back from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.

Marian devotion focuses on the relic of the Sacred Belt, a strip of green wool embroidered with gold thread, traditionally donated by the Madonna to Saint Thomas before her assumption into heaven. This precious gift arrived in Prato in the 12th century, brought by Michele Dagomari, a merchant who faced an adventurous journey to bring the relic to the Cathedral of Santo Stefano, becoming the beating heart of the city's religiosity. Even today, the Display of the Sacred Belt is regulated by ancient medieval statutes, almost an omen for a city closely linked to the textile industry, the source of its fortune.

The Marian cult intensified in 1484 when the population of Prato, impressed by the tears shed by an image of the Madonna, decided to build the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri. After, other miraculous events along the road to Poggio a Caiano led to the construction of the sanctuary of Santa Maria del Soccorso between 1575 and 1584.

Another sacred image of the Madonna, in the seventeenth century, became a destination for pilgrimages and inspired the creation of the sanctuary of Santa Maria della Pietà. In 1664, a lily placed by a devotee in front of an image of the Virgin withered and, in a miraculous gesture, bloomed again. In memory of this extraordinary event, the sanctuary of Santa Maria del Giglio was built.

Information note: the itinerary can be done on foot, although the sanctuaries of Santa Maria della Pietà and Santa Maria del Soccorso are located, respectively, north and south of the historic centre.


  • Involved Municipalities: Prato