A wide staircase leads to the entrance of the sanctuary in front of which is a cistern for the collection of rainwater. The oldest part of the building consists of a tower which backs onto the rock and which was later joined to other structures including a hermitage.
A simplicity and linearity characterises both the exterior of the church, with its square façade and windows adorned with smooth frames, and the interior which is surmounted by a barrel vault. In addition to a fresco on the end, there exists just a font and a stone collection box. From the sacristy at the side of the altar, one can go down into a cave through a trap door. To access the upstairs one must however go through the side entrance of the church. Via an anti chamber carved into the rock, one reaches the first two areas and then the rear of the property where there is a small garden.
Historical NotesThe quote "ecclesiam Sancte Sarie in Pietrabona cum hominibus er pertinentiis suis" dates back to the papal bulls of Lucio III in 1183 and of Clemente III in 1188. The church was mentioned again in 1223 in a document of Pope Onorio III, but the origins of the building are still unknown and there are many stories relating to its foundation.
A legend states that a farmer, having been been saved by a flood just after his invocation to the Virgin Mary, appeared sitting on the stone (hence the name of pietra buona) in the place where the church now stands. Some scholars however are convinced that the church was built on the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Bona. It is considered very likely that there was an overlap of Christian worship with the ancient sanctuary, considering that the surrounding area is rich in archaeological material.
Feast of Our Lady of PietrabonaThe festival takes place on Easter Tuesday with a pilgrimage to the church, where mothers "offer" their children to the Madonna, who is the protector from diseases of childhood, and whose statue is carried in a procession that winds along the route which links the chapel of Santa Maria with the church of the Madonna del Soccorso and the sanctuary of Pietrabona.