- Santo Bambino
- Santissimo Bambino d’Aracoeli
The Bambino is a small statue of the Infant Jesus in the Santa Maria in Aracoeli church at the top of Capital Hill in Rome. It is made of olive wood, and was carved in the 15th century by a Franciscan monk in Jerusalem. The poor monk had no paint, but legend says that an angel painted the statue while the monk slept beside it. While being transported by sea to the church, the Bambino washed overboard in a storm; some time later it washed up on the shore at Livorno, ending at the feet of the monk who was supposed to have taken charge of it. Even today the Franciscans keep it nearby, taking it to the monastery with them whenever it is not on display in the church.
The statue is transported to hospitals and the homes of the sick and dying in Rome, and for centuries has been known to cure them; legend says that the statue’s lips sometimes turn purple as a sure sign that it will heal the sick. Until recently it was carried in a gilded carriage that had been donated by grateful former patients. The statue has received outfits of fine fabrics, jewelry and other wealth from those who have been healed. These are displayed for a time, and then sold by the Franciscans, and the funds used for disaster relief. The Bambino receives letters from around the world; they are laid at the altar, and after a time are burned, unopened, their prayers having been passed on.
If you wish to be truly Roman, you must love the Santo Bambino. - Padre Paolo, Franciscan Superior, Santa Maria in Aracoeli