San Giovanni Rotondo
In the Path of
St. Michael the Archangel
About a 30-minute drive from San Giovanni Rotunda, on the Gargano
Promontory, is the town of Monte Sant’Angelo, reported to be the site
of at least four visits by St. Michael the Archangel, the first in 490 and
the most recent in 1656, when it is said the saint protected villagers
from the plague.
In the introduction to his 1997 book “Saint Michael Shrine on the
Gargano,” Father Jan Bogacki writes:
“In Apulia, on Monte Gargano, the town of Monte Sant’Angelo contains
the most famous shrine of the Latin West dedicated to the Archangel
Saint Michael. Placed on top of the mountain, this singular Basilica
made up of a complex of constructions around the grotto from various
eras gives evidence of a good fifteen centuries of history. From remote
times this is a place of pardon and prayer, famous in the entire
Christian world. An anonymous writer, who lived more than a thousand
years ago, describes it thus: ‘The shrine of Saint Michael is known and
extolled everywhere not for the splendor of its marble, but for the
prodigious events that took place here; of modest form, it is
nevertheless rich in celestial virtue because the Archangel Michael
himself deigned to set up and consecrate it, who being mindful of
human frailty, came down from heaven so that men could participate in
things divine in that temple.’ ”
The site has recorded visits by a number of pilgrims who later were
canonized; among them, Saint Francis of Assisi. Seven popes are
known to have made the pilgrimage to Monte Sant’Angelo, including
Pope John Paul II in 1987.
We visited Monte Sant’Angelo on a Saturday in early summer, after
inspecting visitor facilities in Vieste, a resort area on the tip of Gargano.
We toured the shrine as well as “Il Castello” (The Castle) built by the
Normans in the 11th century. Federico II used it as a royal palace; later
the Angevins converted it into a prison, where most notably Queen
Joan I was held in captivity and then executed (one cell inside the
castle has been restored to show the way it looked at the time,
complete with a model of the prisoner in chains). From the top of the
mountain one can see miles and miles of countryside.
The easiest way to reach Monte Sant’Angelo is by bus from Foggia,
about a 45-minute trip. The bus terminal is across the piazza from the
city’s main railroad station. Buy your bus ticket from the newsstand
inside the station. You can also drive there, but the winding mountain
roads can be tricky if you’re not accustomed to them. Parking is
overseen by gentlemen in white caps who accept tips for their service.
Basilica di San Nicola
Photo by Thomas Granieri/Puglia Connection
Photo by Vito Arcomano/Fototeca ENIT
Otranto,Cathedral, the martyrs chapel
Photo by APT Puglia
|This page is currently under construction.
At Puglia Connection, we are particularly interested in visiting
sacred sites and shrines throughout the Region of Puglia. Saint Pio
of Pietrelcina’s shrine in San Giovanni Rotunda, near the city of
Foggia, is world famous and is said to attract millions of pilgrims
each year. There are, however, other places of religious significance
throughout Puglia with which you may not be familiar. Periodically,
we will introduce you to them and describe our visits, plus offer
travel tips to those interested in touring these holy places.
Bronze of Padre
Pio by Francesco
|The Angevin bell tower in
© APT Puglia
|San Pio, pregate per noi
e per il successo della
nostra Puglia progetto.
Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata
Photo courtesy of Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata