Unesco sites: solemnity of worship and nature
THE SANCTUARY OF SAN MICHELE ARCANGELO
Since 25 June 2011, the Lombard traces of the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo are registered in the List of World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO as part of the serial site “THE LONGOBARDS IN ITALY. PLACES OF POWER (568-774 AD) “
Terrible is this place. Here is the house of God and the gate of heaven.
These solemn words, which are engraved in stone, are the words which welcome visitors to the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo.
It all began 1500 years ago, when three successive apparitions of the Archangel Michael on Mount Gargano (called, in 490,”of the bull”, in 492 “of the victory” and in 493 AD “of the dedication”) prompted the faithful to erect a sanctuary in his honor.
Destination of uninterrupted pilgrimages, the Celestial Basilica welcomes every year thousands of people from all over the world who come to this place in search of a profound spiritual comfort.
The Sanctuary, which consists of a natural cave and a complex of overlapping buildings in successive eras and periods, has such an historical and architectural importance that in 2011 it entered the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of the serial site “The Lombards in Italy, places of power (568-774 AD)”.
Moreover, in 2014, the prestigious American magazine National Geographic, included the Archangel Michael’s Cave among the ten most beautiful Sacred Caves in the world, the only Italian in the ranking. The Sanctuary has a two-level structure. On the upper level, a 27-meter tower juts out into the sky and envelops the entire city with the sound of its bells. It is an octagonal bell tower, the “Torre Angioina”, built based on the plan of Castel del Monte di Andria. Once through the entrance portal, the 86 steps of the staircase descend to the so-called “Porta del Toro”.
Along the way, the traces and signs of pilgrims are still visible because they are engraved in stone. Here we are at the lower level. Crossing the Bronze Gates, cast in Constantinople in 1076, we enter the Anjou nave. At the center of the Basilica opens the imposing and ascetic Grotta of San Michele Arcangelo, a real cave with a rocky vault, which houses the main altar and the statue of San Michele in Carrara marble. Going down, we can admire the “High Medieval Sanctuary”, the Longo-Bard Crypts, which preserves the inscriptions of the Dukes of Benevento. For this reason the Lombards made it their national sanctuary.
In the Middle Ages, this place was part of the itinerary of spiritual redemption known as “Homo, Angelus, Deus”: a path that included a visit to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome and to San Giacomo di Compostella in Spain (Homo), all ‘Angel of the sacred cave of Monte Sant’Angelo (Angelus) and finally to the places of the Holy Land (Deus). Over the centuries, together with pilgrims from all over the world, a long series of popes have visited the Sanctuary of the Archangel on the Gargano. The last one was Pope John Paul II in 1987.
The Sanctuary houses two museums: the Devotional Museum and the Lapidary Museum, which, with the Longo- Bard Crypts, make up the TECUM Museums (TEsori del CUlto Micaelico) pole.
includes the most important Lombard monumental testimonies existing in Italy, located from the north to the south of the peninsula, where the domains of the most important Longobard Ducats who formed what we can define as the first Italian “nation”.
• The Gastaldaga area with the Lombard Temple and the Episcopal Complex in Cividale del Friuli (UD)
• The monumental area with the monastic complex of San Salvatore – Santa Giulia in Brescia
• The castrum with the Tower of Torba and the Church of Santa Maria foris portas in Castelseprio Torba (VA)
• The Basilica of San Salvatore in Spoleto (PG)
• The Tempietto del Clitunno in Campello sul Clitunno (PG)
• The complex of Santa Sofia in Benevento
• The Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo in Monte Sant’An-gelo (FG).
FOR VISITS TO THE TECUM MUSEUMS:
+39 0884 561150
July – September:
festive days 7-20
working days 7.30-19.30
April – June and October:
festive days 7-13/14.30-20
working days 7.30-12.30/14.30-19
November – March:
festive days 7-13/14.30-19
working days 7.30-12.30/14.30-17