Madonna of st Luke, Bologna
The Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca is a basilica church in Bologna, sited atop a forested hill, some 300 metres above the city plain, just south-west of the historical centre of the city.
A church or chapel existed on the hill for about a thousand years. Tradition hold that in the 12th-century, a pilgrim from the Byzantine empire came to Bologna with an icon of the Virgin from the temple of Saint Sofia in Constantinople. In 1160, the bishop of Bologna Gerardo Grassi assigned the icon to a small hermitage-chapel atop the hill that was tended by two holy women, Azzolina and Beatrice Guezi. Construction of a church began in 1193. In 1294, some monks of the Dominican order from the monastery of Ronzano came to the site, and the order remained here until the Napoleonic suppression of 1799
While a road now leads up to the sanctuary, it is also possible to reach it along a 3.8 km monumental roofed arcade (Portico di San Luca) consisting of 666 arches, which was built in 1674–1793. It was meant to protect the icon as it was paraded up the hill. A yearly procession from the Cathedral of San Pietro in the centre of Bologna to the Sanctuary goes along this path. Originally the arches held icons or chapels erected by the patron family.