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One of the most beautiful sacred caves in the world is in Apulia: the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo wins an award

In Monte Sant’Angelo, in Puglia, you can admire one of the main sanctuaries connected to the Michael Archangel cult, a real palimpsest monument, which in its multiple stratigraphic history tells a story that dates back to the late fifth and early sixth centuries AD. 

It is the third complex in the world dedicated to the cult of the archangel and is second only to two other world-famous examples: the Sacra di San Michele near Turin and the majestic Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. 

Since 25 June 2011 the Longobard traces of the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the serial site “I LONGOBARDI IN ITALIA. PLACES OF POWER (568-774 A.D.)”.

The history of his appearances

In the hagiographic operetta ‘Liber de apparitione Sancti Michaelis in Monte Gargano’, the four apparitions of the Archangel are narrated. The first evidence of his solemnity dates back to 490 AD when Elvio Emanuele, a local tenant farmer, lost one of the most precious animals of his flock. While searching, he discovered that he had wandered into a quarry and, unable to retrieve it, decided to shoot an arrow at it. To his surprise, it returned, wounding him and leaving the bull unharmed. Shaken by this episode, he went to ask the bishop for an explanation who, as penance, obliged him to three days of prayer and fasting. During this time, St Michael appeared to him in a dream: he had full power over that place and therefore no harm could be done inside it. However, it was three years later that it was actually consecrated as a religious site, as thanks to the town of Siponto for having escaped the siege of the Lombard king Odoacer.

Other most beautiful sacred caves in the world according to American magazine

National Geographic has honoured this place as one of the most beautiful sacred caves in the world. This is the only example in Italy: in its top ten it is ranked eighth. First is Actun Tunichil Muknal, a Mayan cave in Belize. On the podium, in second and third place, are the Indian Elephanta Caves and the Longmen Caves in China.