An ancient document dating back to 922, indicates that the Church of Santa Maria "sited on Mount Vellate" gave its name to the Sacro Monte over Varese. Presumably the area became a military site in the Roman Age, keeping on this peculiarity for centuries.
However, since ages the Sacro Monte has been a sacred place for all the Lombard people. Its historic-religious importance originates from the first half of the 115th century when Sant' Ambrogio set up the first altar on the mountain in thanks of his victory over the Arians. It is claimed that on the same occasion Sant' Ambrogio gave the wooden statue of the "Black" Virgin to the little oratory.