Mass gallery post of a few things we did over the weekend at San Giovanni Rotondo and neighboring mountain town Monte San’Angelo, on the slopes of Monte Gargano region in southern Italy, before departing north for Florence & the Tuscany region. The small town of Monte San’Angelo was beautiful, with a central castle and narrow alleyways and decaying buildings looking straight out of a history book. It’s almost like we stepped back in time to an older, medieval Europe, into an old Italian mountain owned by Byzantine lords and countesses. The townsfolk are all very simple, easygoing people who are used to the pilgrims/visitors going in and out of their city, and make an honest living from their trade. And the place has history, dating back to the 11th century, a time of political unrest for Italy. Most importantly, Monte San’Angelo is home to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel in the middle of the town square, also called Monte Gargano. Legend says that around the year 490, St. Michael the Archangel visited one of the Bishops nearby a cave in the town, asking him to dedicate the cave and turn it into a shrine for Christians to worship. It was the beginning of many apparitions of St. Michael throughout western Europe. Since then, the cave/shrine has been erected into a holy sanctuary, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visited by important Catholic figures like St. Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II, the sanctuary has been a pilgrimage site since the medieval ages. Walking inside, I noticed the austere outer decorations, tons of St. Michael statues, and the steep staircase that descends underground into the cave. Inside, photos were limited, but I was able to capture a few. The shrine itself is a holy and sacred place, visited by millions all over the world. A statue of St. Michael the Archangel lies beyond the altar, enclosed in a glass case, and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament holds the relic bones of several different saints (St. Francis of Assisi’s, possibly). We were able to kneel at the pews for a bit and pray, for St. Michael the Archangel is known as the defender, protector, and guardian of the Catholic Church. Overall, the short side-trip to Monte San’Angelo was truly a blessed and holy one. I’ve definitely been enjoying myself here in the peaceful Italian countryside.
(Click on the photos to see larger size/full descriptions!)
Now it’s off to the Tuscan region, to Firenze! I’m so excited! Will post as soon as I can.