Meher Baba made 2 visits to Locarno with his companions.

 

The 1st time was on the 29th April 1932 when he and his group drove up from Lugano which is 45 kms / 27 miles away. This took about an hour to drive then. They departed Lugano at 2 p.m. to Locarno; returning to Lugano, arriving at 7 p.m.

 

They spent part of their time visiting the locations where the Locarno Peace Treaty had been negotiated, prior to the signing in London in 1925.

They also visited the church above Locarno Madonna del Sasso. ( see photos within )

 

** see the following web-page for more details on the visit in 1925 about this visit to Switzerland.

https://www.meherbabatravels.com/location-gallery/switzerland/lugano-switzerland/

 

Baba's father - Sheriar M. Irani died the following day - 30th April.

 

 

The 2nd time Baba came to Locarno on the 6th August 1952 after his visit to America where he was involved in a serious car accident. After recuperating in the States he and his group flew firstly to London for a week and then flew to Zurich and then motored to Locarno.

The distance was 200 kms / 124 miles and took most the day to arrive.

 

Baba and his group stayed till the 21st August which they then drove to Geneva, then flying to Paris, then to Karachi, Pakistan and finally to Bombay, India on 23rd August.

 

** see the following web-page for more details on this visit. "Events-1952-Europe"

 & "Events-1952-Overseas visits"

 

Map of Switzerland. Map graphics by Anthony Zois.
Map of Switzerland. Map graphics by Anthony Zois.

Madonna del Sasso, Lucarno, Switzerland

 

Meher Baba's visit to the chuch and sanctuary in 1932

 

With kind permission of Bhau Kalchuri : Lord Meher Vol.5 Page 1599
With kind permission of Bhau Kalchuri : Lord Meher Vol.5 Page 1599

Madonna del Sasso, Cardada and Cimetta

 

The sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina above the city is the principal sight and goal of pilgrimage in the city.

The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d'Ivrea experienced in the night of 14/15 August 1480. The interior is highly decorated, and a platform gives a magnificent view of the city.

A gondola runs from Orselina to the top of Cardada (el. 1,340 m (4,396 ft)), and a chair lift goes further to the top of Cimetta (el. 1,671 m (5,482 ft)).

 

Most striking of all Locarno's sights is the Franciscan Santuario della Madonna del Sasso church, an impressive ochre vision floating above the town on a wooded crag (sasso means rock) and consecrated in 1487 on the spot where, seven years earlier, the Virgin had appeared to Brother Bartholomeo da Ivrea from the San Francesco monastery in the town.
The twenty-minute walk up through the lush ravine of the Torrente Ramogno and past a handful of decaying shrines, is atmospheric enough in itself; or you could take the half-hourly funicular from just west of the station to Ticino's greatest photo-op, looking down through the palms to the sunlit arcaded main front of the church and glittering blue lake behind.

 

Within the complex is a small museum of icons (Easter–Oct Sun–Fri 2–5pm; Fr.2.50), but the church sanctuary is the focus of all the pilgrims’ attention. On the way through the complex you’ll pass several striking terracotta sculpture groups of biblical scenes. The low, Baroque interior of the church features a number of paintings, two of which stand out: Bramartino’s emotionally charged Fuga in Egitto (Flight to Egypt, 1522) and local artist Antonio Ciseri’s Trasporto di Cristo al Sepolcro (1870). The statue of the Virgin on the high altar was sculpted for the church’s consecration by an unknown artist. By the doorway are dozens of votive offerings from pilgrims giving thanks for the intervention of Mary in their daily lives.

 

 

 

Locarno Peace Treaty - 1925

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locarno_Treaties

 

Locarno - Palais de Justice - Siege de la Conference, 1925. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Locarno - Palais de Justice - Siege de la Conference, 1925. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Meher Baba's father - Sheriar M. Irani. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Meher Baba's father - Sheriar M. Irani. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

 

Baba's father - Sheriar M. Irani died the following day - 30th April 1932, the day after Meher Baba's day visit to Locarno.

1952  VISIT

 

Meher Baba's colourized passport photo taken  29th September 1951
Meher Baba's colourized passport photo taken 29th September 1951

 

Meher Baba and his entourage of male & female close followers ( mandali ) started their Western tour when they flew out of Bombay Airport on Friday 18th April 1952 flying with TWA Airlines.

Their final destination was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina via New York, USA, arriving on the 20th April. After a months stay Baba and his close ones set-off to drive to California. A few days later on the 24th May, at Prague, OklahomaBaba's car was involved in an serious accident with another motor vehicle.

Meher Baba  and some of the women in his car suffered serious injuries. After a long period of recuperating at Myrtle Beach & Scarsdale, New York, Baba was ready to return to India.

Baba and his women mandali and a couple of others flew from New York's Idlewild Airport on the 30th July via Gander, Canada to London, England, arriving the 31st.

 

After a weeks stay in London, they flew to Zurich, Swizerland. ( click here to visit the London Tour web-page )

 

Meher Baba and some of his close ones flew by Swissair Flight 111 to Zurich, Switzerland on the 6th August from London.

 

After Meher Baba and his entourage cleared Swiss Customs, they had only checked one of their bags, were met by Irene Billo who had hired 2 cars along with 2 drivers for their journey to Locarno in the South of the country, near the Italian border where they were invited to stay with Hedi Merten at her home Ronco dei Fiori, in the suburb of Solduno & at the next door residence which belonged to **Professor Eischmann, who was away on holidays.

 

( ** Prof. Eischmann belonged to a Christian group called 'Eranos' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eranos ).

 

Both Hedi & Irene had stayed with Baba in India in the mid-1930s.

 

Meher Baba had come to Locarno once before on a day trip on the 29th April 1932. He and his companions were staying in Lugano at that time for 10 days. ( see previous section )

 

Most of the women were to stay at Hedi's home and all the men including Rano Gayley & Dr. Goher were to live in the next door premises with Baba.

 

The 1st car, a 1947 Chrysler carried Meher Baba & his Women Mandali, also Irene Billo.

 

The 2nd car, a 1946-8 Packard carried the rest of the women including Dr. Donkin.

 

( see "Road Trips" )

Zurich to Locarno by road ; about 200 kms / 125 miles.

 

Only one of these vehicles was at Baba's disposal for the rest of his time in Switzerland, except on the last day when they used both cars again, to transport them all to Geneva to catch flights to India and elsewhere.

 

This journey from Zurich took all day to reach Locarno arriving at 10:30 pm.

 

Irene Billo along with Max & Gisella Haefliger and their 3 daughter - Rona (12), Monika (11 & Verena (8) had all agreed to help Hedi in hosting their guests. They all stayed at Hedi's.

 

There is little mention in any of the publications about this tour, about which exact route was taken by the cars to Locarno. Only sketchy details are given.

 

The common language in this part of Switzerland is Italian.

 

 

1952 : Detailed Eastward plane & road routes through Europe heading to India. Map graphics by Anthony Zois.
1952 : Detailed Eastward plane & road routes through Europe heading to India. Map graphics by Anthony Zois.

 

To see the all the different trips to Switzerland at this time click on the following page title "Events - Europe 1952"

 

 

ROAD  ROUTE  ZURICH  TO LOCARNO 1952

 Irene Billo leaning on the Chrysler car she hired with Dr. Willian Donkin standing nearby. This is the car that Baba travelled throughout Switzerland. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Irene Billo leaning on the Chrysler car she hired with Dr. Willian Donkin standing nearby. This is the car that Baba travelled throughout Switzerland. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

1st Car :   1947 Chyrsler New Yorker 4-door sedan

 

- see below

This car carried Meher Baba, Mehera Irani, Mani Irani ( Baba's sister ), Meheru & Dr. Goher Irani & Irene Billo.

Driving from Zurich to Locarno in a 1946 Packard motor vehicle. Image colourized by Anthony Zois
Driving from Zurich to Locarno in a 1946 Packard motor vehicle. Image colourized by Anthony Zois

2nd Car :   1946-8 Packard Super Clipper Touring Sedan

 

- see below

This car carried the rest of the women - Rano Gayley, Delia De Leon, Charmian Duce & Dr. Donkin.

The following images are of other vehicles of the same type. See more images of these vehicles click on the following web extension. Road Trips - 1952 : Switzerland

 Entrance to Hedi Merten's then home in Locarno.
Entrance to Hedi Merten's then home in Locarno.

 

Hedi Mertens was a Swiss artist and follower of Meher Baba since the mid-1930s. She and late husband Walter had travelled to India and toured with Meher Baba then. They had also hosted him at their then home in Zurich during his travels through Europe in the mid-1930s.

 

When Meher Baba and his group arrived to stay with Hedi, she was leasing her home at that time. She had also secured the next door property for Baba's use to aid in his recovery from the horrific automobile accident in Oklahoma, USA earlier in the year.

 

When Baba's entourage arrived at Hedi's home " Ronco Dei Fiori ", after the long drive from Zurich, Baba was quite tired and was moved to his room by wheelchair.

 

 Webmaster

 

1952 Locarno : Baba relaxing in the garden next to Hedi's home. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
1952 Locarno : Baba relaxing in the garden next to Hedi's home. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

During their stay in Locarno, both Meher Baba and Mehera Irani had medical treatment and examination for their wounds from the car accident.

 

They also visited the local sights on several occasions along with 2 long trips which took them into Italian territory where visas were obtained. The 1st trip was to Maloja in the Swiss Alps and the 2nd was to Stresa & Bella Island by the lake.

 

They departed Locarno on the 21st August by 2 cars to Geneva and after a couple of days they caught a flight to Paris where they changed planes which was to take them to Karachi, Pakistan via Beirut, Lebanon.

Finally they changed planes again for the last leg to Bombay, India, arriving on the 23rd August.

 

 

** see the following web-page for more details on this visit. "Events-1952-Europe"

 & "Events-1952-Overseas visits"

 

Webmaster

Images of Meher Baba's Close ones & Friends who were with him on this trip to Locarno.

          MEHERA                           MEHERU                       MANI                                GOHER

 

 

          DELIA DE LEON                          RANO GAYLEY                CHARMIAN DUCE - KNOWLES

 

 

  ADI K.            MEHERJEE             SAROSH                   DR. NILU                    GUSTADJI

 IRENE BILLO               HEDI MERTENS       ANITA de CARO-VIEILLARD   ROGER VIEILLARD 

 

       DR. WILLIAM DONKIN                                    GISELA & MAX HAEFLIGER

 

The some of the men Mandali pose in Switzerland next to the 1947 Chrysler motor vehicle which transported Meher Baba & his women Mandali. ( L-R ) Meherjee Karkaria, Dr. Nilu Godse, Sarosh K. Irani & Adi K. Irani. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
The some of the men Mandali pose in Switzerland next to the 1947 Chrysler motor vehicle which transported Meher Baba & his women Mandali. ( L-R ) Meherjee Karkaria, Dr. Nilu Godse, Sarosh K. Irani & Adi K. Irani. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

HEDI MERTEN'S 1950 FIAT 500 "TOPOLINO" CAR ( example )

Dr. Donkin gave Max Haefliger the book by Paul Otto Hesse " Der Jungste Tag" ( Day of Judgement ) during their stay in Locarno.

 

Locarno maps of Meher Baba's residency location

They also visited the local sights on several occasions along with 2 long trips which took them into Italian territory where visas were obtained. The 1st trip was to Maloja in the Swiss Alps via Lugano & Lake Como and the 2nd was to Stresa & Bella Island by the lake.

LAKE  COMO,  ITALY

Panoramic view of Lake Como, Switzerland & Italy.
Panoramic view of Lake Como, Switzerland & Italy.

MALOJA,  SWITZERLAND

Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

STRESA & BELLA ISLAND,  ITALY

Bella Island
Bella Island

 

To read about this visit to the West in 1952 by Meher Baba visit the following web-page -

                                                                     "Events 1952 Visit "

This visit consists of 7 web-pages.

* USA visit - * New York visit - * Myrtle Beach visit - * Prague, Oklahoma visit

* England visit

* European visit

* Overseas visits

 

 1952 : Detailed Eastward plane routes returning from the USA to London, Europe & Middle East, heading to India. Map graphics by Anthony Zois
1952 : Detailed Eastward plane routes returning from the USA to London, Europe & Middle East, heading to India. Map graphics by Anthony Zois