Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears, Syracuse

This competition was organised for the construction of a basilica in Syracuse by the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears.

The competition programme was approved by the International Union of Architects (UIA).


Construction started in 1966 and the sanctuary was inaugurated in 1994 by Pope Jean-Paul II.

Keywords : Heritage, Religion, Urban Landscape

Theme and objectives

This Sanctuary was to be built on an area of land facing the Piazza della Vittoria.

The aim of the competition was to create a new church to house a plaster effigy of the Virgin Mary that was removed from the home of the Iannuso couple after it was said to have wept from 29 August to 1 September 1953.

The tears were analysed and found to be genuine tear fluid. The devotion that followed took on enormous proportions. At the end of that same year, the miracle was declared authentic by Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini of the Episcopate of Sicily.


All architects registered professionally in their own countries could take part in this competition.

Jury Members

100 projects from 17 countries were submitted to the jury in Syracuse. The jury was composed of the following members:

  • M. Fallani, President of the Pontifical Central Commission for Sacred Art, ITALY; 
  • Ettore Baranzini, Prelate of the Catholic Church, ITALY;
  • Diego Berretta, Engineer, ITALY;
  • Salvatore Formosa, Engineer, ITALY;
  • Luis Moya Blanco, Architect, SPAIN;
  • Saverio Muratori, Architect, ITALY;
  • Vincenzo Passarelli, Architect, ITALY;
  • Ottavio Musumeci, Theologian, ITALY;
  • Mario Alfano, Architect, ITALY;
  • Luigi La Ciura, Engineer, ITALY;
  • Rodolfo Santuccio, Engineer; ITALY;
  • Rudolf Schwartz, Architect, GERMANY;
  • Pierre Vago, Architect, FRANCE. 


Competition closed. Results announced on 1956.