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Spoleto and sorroundings

Saint Maria of Giacobbe on the Pale Stone.

Three European Places connected together for the Cult of the Maries. Saints Maries de Mer in Camargue Saint Maria Salome in Veroli Saint Maria of Giacobbe on Pale Stone Hermitage of Saint Maria of Giacobbe on the Pale Stone. restaurated by Doctor Giordana Benazzi and Architect Giampiero Carini.

It's a very interesting place.

"Pale" is an ancient pagan divinity of the sheep-rearing. On the top of the Mount "Pale" height of 1000 mt. a Pagan temple was discovered. The Stone of "Pale" has a pyramidal form that dominates the town of Foligno and a big part of the Valley of Spoleto. The Hermitage of Saint Mary of Giacobbe is situated in the middle of the "Pale Stone". The Hermitage include a building ancient of more than 1295 with a rectangular plant of 9 x 4 meters dimension and two buildings residence of the hermits who guarded the temple. Probably the rocks around were inhabited by hermits already from year 500.

Inside the Church dedicated to Mary of Giacobbe (Giacomo's mother). According to the popular tradition and the legend she was one of the devotional woman who isolated for penance in these places after attending the Christ Passion and Crucifixion) there are a lot of Byzantine paintings of which the most important is the reproduction (of XIV Century) of the "Holy Face", a Cross situated in the Cathedral of Lucca, visited by many pilgrimes. The Christ with tunic dipped his feets in the Sacred Graal. The relation to the Breton legendary traditions are obvious. Moreover a document found in the close Abbey of Sassovivo of XIV century, states exactly the popular belief of Mary's presence in those places. The Benedictines Monks of this Abbey succeeded to take advantage of waters of the Menotre river that pass close to "Pale" in three jumps, taking advantage in optimal way the powerful force of the water, for several productions, especially for the paper manifacturing, than probably supplied paper for the press of the first Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

Of the three places cited in the title, it is not necessary to say anything on Saintes Maries de Mer in Camargue, place in which the legend wants landed the 3 Maries.

On Saint Mary Salome in Veroli (Lazio) it can be said that the legend says that in an inaccessible part of the mountain has been found a urn containing the rests of the Saint; this is the first place in which the cult of Saint Mary of Jacobi (S.Giacomo, Saint Jacopo or Santiago, one of Apostles of Jesus) probably was wide-spread from the Oriental monks that passed through the Center of Italy.

To visit the Sanctuary it is necessary to ask the guides for the touristic visit (very rare) or to contact an attendant in the little town that keep the key.

There is a special ritual of purification during the visit.
Before going to the Sanctuary you have to trace with the foot the print of the heel in relief of the rock that the tradition wants or leave from the same Saint Mary of Giacobbe, at the beginning of the path. Then cross to the Menotre River. To end you to climb the steep slope barefoot on the stony road. It's a 20 minutes of hard walk. Have a good time!

Jacopo Feliciani