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Abbazia di San Galgano

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The Abbey of San Galgano is in Gothic style, (The first to be built in Tuscany) built in 1218 by the Cistercian monks arrived from the south of the continent.

The reason of the location is the vicinity to the river, the woods and good terrain for cultivation. The monastery of San Galago was a place where few personalities visited during the 12-13th century, knights and princes, later in 1329 till 1348 the plague hit the place and it was deserted for many years and gangs of mercenaries stolen what was still of value, with the years,  big parts where destroyed, and finally in 1786 the roof and the bell felt down hit by lightning. Three years alter the church was deconsacrated and the monks left for Siena.

What is the legend behind the sword ?

Galgano Guidotti was born in 1148, the son of a minor nobleman , became knight but was constantly looking for trouble and pleasures.

One day he had a dream that an angel appeared before him and showed him the way to salvation, providing him the directions as well.

The day after, Sir Galgano announced that he was going to become a hermit and went to live in a cave.

His friends and Dionisia, his mother, did not believe he will stay there for long time, because of the terrible humidity and conditions he was not used to them, as a nobleman.

One day, riding his horse, he was lifted up in the air by invisible forces, leading him to MountSiepi, close to his home town of Chiusdino. Galgano saw a round temple with paintings of Jesus and Mary surrounded by the Apostles. The voice told him to climb the hill, and while doing so, the vision faded.

When he reached the top the voice spoke again, inviting him to renounce his way of life. Galgano replied that it is easier for him to split a solid rock with his sword.

To prove his point, he drew his blade and shove at the rocky ground. With an ease that left him impressed, the sword penetrated the solid rock to the hilt.

Galgano got the message, and conducted a life in poverty, visited by the occasional peasant looking for a blessing. Galgano Guidotti died in 1181, at the age of 33 years, and was canonized four years later. His funeral was a major event, attended by bishops and three Cistercian abbots. The year after, the Bishop of Volterra gave Monte Siepi to the Cistercian monks, to build a shrine to Galgano’s memory. They began building in 1185, erecting a round chapel that became known as the Cappella di Monte Siepi, on the hill above the main abbey, with the sword forming the attraction.

 

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