The first historical notes on Madonna di Campiglio date back to 1188 and are included in a letter to the Trento bishop, Corrado II from Beseno. At that time, in particular around 1180, a certain Mr. Raimondo built a little hospice in this area for his soul, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, “to help the poor and to shelter the passing people at Monte Campiglio, in a solitary and uninhabited place where often who pass was pillaged and killed”.
Soon other believers added to the good Raimondo and they joined their properties; so, thanks also to the generous oblations of the benefactors, the monastery-hospice was enlarged and supplied with a chapel dedicated to the Holy Mary, from whom the home and the place took the name.
For centuries the institution carried out the function of hosting and feeding the pilgrims. After some years, the original chapel was changed into a beautiful sanctuary with three naves and three altars till 1895, when it was demolished because it was crumbling. It was replaced with the present alpine little church in neo-Ghotic style, all in the local granite, that was inaugurated on 16th August 1895.
The Austrian Court, who chose Madonna di Campiglio as summer resort, and first of all, the Francesco Giuseppe Emperor, wanted to bind their name to this sacred place, donating the pulpit and the confessional at the top of the nave (where the name of the Emperor is written both in German and Italian), the pine planking with the most popular Saints figure and some beautiful windows.
On one of these windows the St. Bartolomeo apostle is represented, patron of the parish, who drew the knife of his martyrdom, while on another one there is the figure of Carlo Magno, who in some German dioceses was venerated as a saint and to his name is dedicated the near Pass. On the floor there is the Franz Joseph Oesterreicher tomb (1848-1909), the natural son – it is said – of the Austrian Emperor.
On the decorated pews, you can read the names of the donators, written in Ghotic characters. Among them there is that of the Righi family, worthy for his member Gian Battista, who was the pioneer and the main promotor of the tourist development of Madonna di Campiglio.
In the little church of Santa Maria Antica, there are some details that are worthy of particular attention from an artistic point of view:
1. The age-old Crucifix, in Nordic style, in the presbitery arch that dates back to the twelfth century.
2. The beautiful triptych of the Madonna with the Christ Child and Saints (St. Barbara with the chalice and St. Caterina with the martyrdom wheel) who dominates in the middle of the presbitery. Four episodes of the Vergin life (Annunciation, Crib, Visitation, the Magi Adoration) are represented and there are four pictures of the most famous Doctors of the Church. Moreover, there are eight family coats of arms, the most ancient of which is of the bishop Giovanni IV Hinderbach (benefactor and promotor of this hospice as other ones of the region). All the work is by Maestro Narciso School, famous figure of the Alto Adige sculpture and of the Late Ghotic period.
3. The wooden sculpture of the “Vergin of the Fic” of the Fourthteenth century, to which several pilgrims addressed for centuries.