The Chapel of the Basketball Shrine, located inside the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace known as the Bridge, was consecrated on July 29, 1956, in a religious ceremony officiated by then Archpriest Don Amedeo Migliorini, in the presence of FIP President Decio Scuri and representatives of the Provinces of Emilia Romagna.
The great promoter of this initiative was then Fip Regional Committee President Achille Baratti, supported locally by postwar sports pioneer Gianni Gherardi and parish priest Monsignor Enrico Testoni.

The event was preceded by a torch relay in which athletes from Virtus Minganti, Gira Preti and Moto Morini, forerunners of today’s Basket city, enthusiastically participated. The athletes brought a votive lamp from the Shrine of Our Lady of St. Luke in Bologna, destined to perpetually illuminate the shrine recognized as the Basket City Shrine.

After a long period of oblivion, on July 7, 1996, the Pallacanestro Porretta club chaired by Guglielmo Bernardi promoted a participatory initiative from which resulted a celebratory volume in an attempt to make the Shrine known and raise the Madonna del Ponte as a reference for all Italian basketball players.

In 2015, with the strong impetus of Avv. Alessandro Albicini, the idea of making Our Lady of the Bridge , Patroness of National Basketball had its first positive feedback. The first enthusiastic supporters of the idea were FIP National President Dr. Gianni Petrucci and FIP Regional Committee Stefano Tedeschi, together with the Municipal Administration of Porretta Terme/ Alto Reno Terme in close collaboration with the parish priest Don Lino Civerra of the Parish of S. Maria Maddalena. On June 24, 2015, His Holiness Pope Francis blessed a torch and votive lamp that was placed inside the Sanctuary of Madonna del Ponte.

On September 3, 2016, the Archbishop of Bologna, His Eminence Archbishop Matteo Maria Zuppi attended a participatory event at the Shrine in the presence of CONI Regional Committee President Umberto Suprani.

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments decreed the recognition of Our Lady of the Bridge of Porretta Terme as the Patroness of Italian basketball, ratifying the pronouncement of the CEI – Italian Episcopal Conference that took place on May 27, 2021. This finally closes the canonical process for the attribution to the Marian Shrine of Porretta Terme of this prestigious religious title, the first for a team sport adding to those previously granted only to cycling and fencing.

The initiative was strongly desired by the Fip – Italian Basketball Federation, in the person of its President Dr. Gianni Petrucci, and supported in the canonical sphere by the Diocese of Bologna, first with the decisive contribution of the late Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and then with the same intense participation by his successor Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi.