Santuario della Madonna della Grotta

Useful Information

Location: Near Modugno, at the road to Carbonara.
Open: All year daily.
Fee: Free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Santuario della Madonna della Grotta, Str. Madonna della Grotta, 3, 70026 Modugno BA, Italy, Tel: 080 5054015, Tel: 080 5053098. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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8th century a rock church called Santa Maria in Gryptam existed, origin unknown.
1071 first written evidence of the existence of the Benedettini settlement in Modugno, dedicated to Sant'Arcangelo.
1139 San Corrado di Baviera lives at the sanctuary.
1155 San Corrado di Baviera dies at the sanctuary.
1313 Benedictine monks transferred to the convent of Mazzocca and the site abandoned because of an political scheme of Roberto d'Angiò.
1718 to 1851 Jesuits lived here, dedicated to the Marian cult.
25-APR-1854 complex was taken over by the Modugnese canon Luigi Loiacono.
early 20th century abandoned.
1964 purchased by Giovanni Schiralli.
1971 renovation by the Padri Rogazionisti (Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus).


The Santuario della Madonna della Grotta (sanctuary of Santa Maria della Grotta) is a probably a natural cave, which was heavily alterated by humans to be used as a cave church. It is dedicated to Saint Mary. The monastery is located at an important route to the holy land, so it was a transit point for Crusaders heading towards the Holy Land or returning from it. But during the Middle Ages it was also a destination for pilgrimages because of San Corrado di Baviera.

The sanctuary is strongly connected to San Corrado di Baviera, who lived at the sanctuary from 1139 to his death in 1150. The Saint went to Palestine during the First Crusade, when he returned he lived the live of an anchorite at this place. The grave of the Saint in the cave was one of the reasons for the pilgrimages to this place. When the monastery was abandoned after a political scheme by Roberto d'Angiò in 1313, the citicens of Molfetta, who were followers of the Saint, relocated the body to Molfetta. But until today some Molfettesi go on pilgrimage to this place, where their patron saint lived and died.

The cave was used for worship in early times, but it was forgotten. It was rediscovered during the renovation works in the early 1970s and several important artworks were discovered here. Parts of a mosaic covering the floor, two tombs, three frescoes the 12th-14th century in Byzantine style, and a limestone statuette from the 16th century depicting a Pietà similar to that of Michelangelo.