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Spoleto and sorroundings

Spoleto crossroad of several destinations of Christian pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage is a travel that the Christians make to the main destinations of the Faith. Therefore the pilgrimage is the way to visit and discover the fundamental reliquies, rests and monuments of the Catholic Faith. Usually the trip is made in both directions according to several modalities. As an example the trip is usually on foot, and the heavy knapsach represents the Cross that Jesus carried to the Calvary, the bordone is a tool to kill the evil. The hard work and effort that pilgrim makes along the way distinguish the pilgrim (in virtue of a greater physical strain and difficulty) and it differentiates from a pure and simple visit of the normal tourist (that generally has higher economic expense). The pilgrim leaves from his home and covers the road according to his own inner requirements that he thinks more suitable. Considering this, it does not have any sense to speak about a specific Road rather than another. The fact acquires importance as there are some routes and destinations that are more travelled than others. The pilgrimages have always existed from the remote periods, to begin from the Old one and continuing with the New Testament. They began to take a strong consistency with the Pilgrimage in Holy Land for the discovery of where Jesus lived. Already with the insured freedom of Religion Cult for the Costantino's Edict (313 A.D.) the phenomenon became more and more important. In the 638 A.D. Jerusalem was conquered from Arabs and Rome (Saint Peter and Saint Paul) became the two important destinations. The walk "Camino de Santiago" became important after year 813 A.D. for the visit of Saint James the Great. Other pilgrimages that have an important interest for our Region are those of Saint Francesco some year after his death, and the Pilgrimage to Loreto (Marche). Umbria is a center of interest for other Saints of which the most important are the Saint Patron of Europe Benedict of Norcia and Saint Rita of Cascia. The routes of pilgrimage that interest the town of Spoleto are in chronological order: the Pilgrimage in Holy Land, the Holy Route Langobardorum, the Francigena Route, the Francesco's Francigena Route, the Lauretana Route. Our point of reference is the Consular Road Flaminia in primis and the Spina Pass (to the towns of Plestia and Loreto) and at last the Nursina road that renders the town essential hinge of the religious destinations. The pilgrimage could be made for any reason, from the one's own will, like expiation of some sin, obliged from the clergyman for absolution. In the past, the pilgrim had to prepare for the departure with practical devotional and purificational confessing, arranging creditors, reconciling with eventual enemies, carrying out testaments, leaving donations to the Church. Then the Bishop had to bless the pilgrim for the travel. Persons who, for any reason, could not be allowed to travel opted for the "pilgrimage for procura" that is to say that they could send a substitute in their place. In order to avoid speculation and professional pilgrimages the Church listed the persons who could replace themselves to the Pilgrim, like relatives and persons of ascertained faith. Each Pilgrim has his own symbol or sign that he brings, togheter with the traditional ones of the pilgrim that are the saddlebag, the bordone and the schiavina that is a cappa with pointed hood and a hat with wide stratums. Then there are specific signs for each of the places: the branch of Palm for the pilgrims going to Jerusalem, the Shell for those directing to Santiago de Compostela, the Keys for those directing to Rome. For the Langobardarum Way pilgrims it is the Archangel, for those directed to Assisi the sign is the Franciscan Tau, and for those directing to Loreto, the sign is the makes of moon (that decorate dresses of the Black Madonna guarded there). Each Pilgrim has his own symbol or sign that brings with himself instead of the traditional ones of the pilgrim that are the saddlebag, the bordone and the schiavina that is a cappa with pointed hood and a hat with wide stratums. Then there are specific sign for each of the place: the branch of Palm for the pilgrims directed to Jerusalem, the Shell for those going to Santiago de Compostela, the Keys for those going to Rome. For the Langobardarum Road pilgrims it is the Archangel, for those going to Assisi the sign is the Franciscan Tau, and for those going to Loreto, the sign is the crescent moon (that decorate dresses of the Black Madonna guarded there).

Pilgrimage in Holy Land.
The pilgrims going to Holy Land had two possibilities by road, covering the great Consular Roman roads and the marine one following the coast (cabotage) from spring to autumn period. The first pilgrims of great importance were women. Saint Elena (326), mother of Emperor Costantino and Egeria (381), a Spanish Lady that described the world of the pilgrims in her long permanence of three years in Holy Land. The sea route previewed the boarding directly from Saint Angel Mount, or, after a walk to Brindisi leave by boat, following the coast of Albania, Greece, Creta, Turkey and Cyprus. Road pilgrims went from Mount Saint Angel then to Albania and it continued on foot to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and at last Palestine.

The Sacra Langobardorum Route.
This is the road taken by the pilgrims going to the Angel's Cove of Mount Saint Angel, in Province of Foggia. On May 8, 490 A.D., then in 493 and 492 the Michael Archangel appeared to the Bishop of Siponto Lorenzo Majorano in that cove. He appeared again in 1656 to the Bishop of Manfredonia G.A. Puccinelli in order to dispense and give guarigioni while at that time the plague imperversed. The road was being taken by the pilgrims especially for Longobardi of the Southern Italy that lived there and chose the road to the cove of the Sanctuary and from there they diffused the cult. The pilgrimages left from Mont Saint Michel (France) (1), from England (in Cornovaglia there is Mount St. Michael's the third place in which the Michele Archangel is venerated) and crossed Europe for the Via Sacra Langobardorum (2). The three places are in the same directory. Furthermore there is a fourth place in which the Archangel was manifested and is in the Sacred Saint Michael in Piemonte. From the tenth Century Mount Saint Angel was obliged destinations of the Crusaders who left for the Holy Land. In the Middle Ages the destinations of the Angel was the maximum aspiration of the Umbrians, especially of the poorest classes of the town of Spoleto and Foligno. Saint Michael was a high consideration as interceved for the spirits of the defunct. The routes are the following ones: Temple Longobardo, episcopal Complex and Rests of the Patriarchal Palace of Cividale dell'Albania Friuli, called- Area of the Gastaldaga; Monastery of San Salvatore, Saint Julia of Brescia; Tower of Torba, Church of Saint Maria foris portas of Castelseprio, called - area of the Castrum; Basilica of Saint Salvatore of Spoleto; Temple of the Clitunno di Campello in Clitunno; Church and Chiostro of Benevento, Sanctuary of Saint Michael to Saint Angel Mount, called - Complex of Saint Sofia.

Via Francigena.
The Via Francigena is the road that Romeo (Christian traveller going to Rome) followed in order to reach the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. According to the road covered from Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigerico, in 79 stages, in year 990, in Medieval Age, the traditional route left from Canterbury crossing France, North and Central Italy, and carried to Rome. In ancient times, the road had interest for Spoleto, in spite of that it was not inserted in the classic one, as the Consular Road Flaminia was one of the most important roads to Rome, and in consideration of the visit of Norcia town, birth place of Saint Benedict. The road followed the lines after 1226, year when Saint Francesco died.

El Camino de Santiago.
This is the pilgrimage that the pilgrims take to visit to the Saint Apostle Giacomo Major martyrized in 44 d.C. As a result of this discovery of the body of Saint Giacomo in 813 d.C on a tumulo of earth on the Libradòn Mount at the Pelayo hermit, the numerous pilgrims began to flow. The traditional "Camino", from Italy passes on the roads of the Via Francigena and from Fidenza it follows for Ventimiglia or the Col of Monginevro and continues to Frejus, Aix en Provence, Arles, Camargue, Montpellier, and resumes on the GR 653 Via Tolosana that is Toulouse, Lourdes ring-establish itself in Spain for the traditional "Camino Francès" to Pamplona for two French alternatives: Samport or for St.Pied de Port. Then the traditional Camino Francès goes to Burgos, Leon, Sarria (the closest town to get the Compostela for the pilgrims who have walked at least the last 100 km, or cycled 200 km as showed on their credential) and ends before at Santiago and then to Fisterre. The Camino is the most important Pilgrimage as it was re-established in the seventies and organized to minimal detail. It is served from lodging, ristorative structures and the indications. For the incoming pilgrims from other parts of Europe to the Camino Francès (French Road) and the Camino of the North or de la Costa, that passes in Saint Sebastian and Oviedo, but is less followed and served. The important care of the Camino previews a special one with a University Credential (3), in which besides the normal stamps (matasello) it is necessary to have specific of the University structures that are found along the Camino. The University furthermore releases special memories, same spillette of the same structures. The University Credential is released from the University of Pamplona.

Via Francescana -The Via Francigena of Saint Francesco of Assisi.
It is the diversion and alternative road that quickly followed the Via Francigena as result of the visit of the Francesco Places after 1226(Year of his death). The road passes through Perugia, Assisi, Foligno, Spoleto, Valnerina Ternana, and meets with the roads of Lazio Region.

Via Lauretana.
Starting from the second half '400, this road puts Rome in communication with Loreto for the transit of the pilgrims in both directions. After the Basilica of the Saint Casa di Loreto was built, it preserved the Black Madonna and the Holy House of Mary, place where she had the Annunciation. It was also called "Strada dei Santuari" it was a short walking that allowed to visit both the Sanctuary of Saint Francesco of Assisi and the Sanctuary of S.Nicholas of Tolentino.

Tracing: Rome - Flaminia Road - Terni (in the Agostinian Church of Saint Peter the first representation of the Simulacro venerated in Loreto is conserved) - Spoleto - a smaller part of the pilgrims took the Via della Spina that goes to Colfiorito through Verchiano (in Piè di Cammoro, to testify the pilgrimages, remains a XVI century hotel that has a Lauretan Chapel painted in year 1515 from Paolo Bontulli of Percanestro and some graffiti painted by pilgrims in XVI century). most pilgrims continued instead to Foligno (at that time it was the crossroad of the Pilgrims). The Madonna di Loreto Chapel of Foligno, built in 1404 is the trace of most ancient transfer of Lauretan sacredness. In the XVI century from the Door of the Northeast of Foligno (monumentalized in year 1426) started a road that already had the name of Via Lauretana and went to the Mile of S. Paul (Miglio di San Paolo- the exact distance of a mile from Foligno); then it passed to Hill Saint Lorenza - Bridge Saint Lucia (with an inn and a meeting of 1429 on initiative of Corrado Trinci that lasted from saturday to monday of the last week of August for the lauretan Pilgrimage that is celebrated on 8th of september) - Sostino (hostel for the pilgrims built in late 1407, Inn with exemption of tax payment for the meats on the initiative of the Trinci and then of the Popes) - Planes of Ricciano (Church of Saint Mary of Loreto with open gallery in 1425 to end of the climb that it introduces to the Planes of Ricciano) - Colfiorito - Serravalle of the Chienti – Camerino. Some of the pilgrims used the roads of the long transumanza of the abruzzese-marchigiana Appennine that goes to Norcia following the Valnerina Road, passing through Visso, Muccia to Camerino where it joins the most important flow of pilgrims that came from Foligno. The pilgrims that came from the North of Umbria went to Nocera - Pioraco - Fiuminata (the tabernacolo of the Eremo di Valcora contains frescos of Madonna with a Child attributed to Diotallevi di Angeluccio di Esanatoglia and it is one of the most ancient Lauretan Representations) - Castelraimondo that was rejoined with the flow of coming pilgrims from Camerino. From Camerino one took the Queen's Road that goes through Sanseverino Marche, Macerata, Recanati and at last LORETO. From the 300's Flaminia was replaced partially by Via Lauretana and Via Plestina (today S.S.77), used from the Via Francigena for the Porziuncola, in order to go around the tracing climb of Belfiore - Mount of Pale Stone - up to Casenove of Cifo – Colfiorito. Detail of the route: Rome – Prima Porta - Castel Novo - Rignano - Civita Castellana - Borghetto – Imbarco di Otricoli - Narni - Terni - Stretura - Spoleto - Passo - Camara - Verchiano - Serravalle - Muccia - Polverina - Valcimarra - Tolentino – Macerata - Recanati - Loreto. The most used road was S.S. 77 or "Valdichienti". There were two further routes, one of Via di Jesi and one of Via di Visso or Macereto.


(1)According to the legend Michael Archangel appeared to Sant'Uberto, Bishop of Avranches in 709 with the demand to build a Church on the cliff of Mont Saint-Michel-au-péril-de-la-Mer. As the Bishop ignored the request two times, the Archangel and Saint Michele burned with the touch of his finger on the skull of Sant'Uberto, letting him live. The Cathedral of Avranches keeps the skull of Sant'Uberto with that round hole. (2)The 3 places in which Archangel Michael appeared has the particularity that on the maps they can be joined with a straight line. This straight line includes the Town of Camerino that is important crossroad for the Via Lauretana. (3)The credential is a document, a little book that contains some sheets in which the pilgrim affixes the stamps of several built structures (museum, bar, restaurant, "albergue" (Spanish hostel), hotel) that are along the road of the Pilgrimage. When the pilgrim arrives at the final destinations of the pilgrimage, the Chapter of the Cathedral examins the credential with the passages of the localities along the way indicated by the stamps, and can release the Certificate of participation to the pilgrimage (for example, "Compostela" in Santiago).

Jacopo Feliciani