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Home > Maps, Accomodations and Paths > Poggio Bustone Sanctuary - Sacred Grotto

Poggio Bustone Sanctuary - Sacred Grotto

Sacred Grotto - Poggio Bustone
Length: 18,6 Km
Difficulty: medium

Altimetry (file pdf, 54 KB)

This itinerary is among one of the most Franciscan in nature: it opens the pilgrim's soul to meditation and contemplation, as it did to Saint Francis during his stay in Poggio Bustone in 1209.

Joergensen writes: "If we want to fully understand Francis of Assisi, it is important to follow him to the heights, in that isolated grotto in the mountains".

By following a spiraling footpath through the woods that begins at the Tempietto della Pace a little further on from the Poggio Bustone Sanctuary and continuing on for about half an hour, you walk uphill for about 600 meters until you reach the Sacred Grotto where Saint Francis was pardoned for his sins. This path is the same one the Saint took in the year 1200.

The eye is filled with views of centuries-old Holm oaks and maple trees.

Along the path there are six chapels erected around 1650 to commemorate the miracles carried out by Saint Francis. Each one is tied to an episode that, according to local tradition, Saint Francis encountered in his continuous climbs to the narrow location.

The first one commemorates the miracle of when the Saint placed his bible on a stone to shield it from a storm. As soon as he laid the bible down, the stone fell away as if made of wax. The gap can still be seen. The second chapel preserves the shape of the hood impressed in the stone where the Saint rested his head. A few meters from here, there is another stone where there is the print of Saint Francis' knee left on the occasion that the humble Saint knelt when he was visited by an Angel. The third temple shelters the print of the Saint's elbow on a stone. The fourth chapel is dedicated to the apparition of the devil who left its deformed prints on a stone. The fifth holds a stone bearing Saint Francis' footprint and the sixth chapel houses the imprint of an angel that appeared to the saint in human from.

The Sacred Grotto is not far from the sixth and last chapel. This is where you enter the true heart of Franciscan belief.

The small grotto situated between two rocks, was the place where Saint Francis prayed and the center of his Francisacn community.

Saint Francis lived in this grotto in 1209 and it was here that an angel appeared to him in the form of a young boy announcing the total remission of his past sins and it was also here that the expansion of his Order was revealed to him.

Below the immense rocky mass which is about 100 meters high, stands a tiny church which, with its bell tower and little apse, encloses the Grotto of the visions like an embrace.

During the time Saint Francis lived here, it was only a grotto, but at the beginning of the 14th century, the church and bell tower were built and around 1600 it was enlarged to its present size.

The Sanctuary is made up of two structures, one above the other. They look as though they have been dug out of the rock itself. They are simple and unadorned but very evocative and immensly dear to Saint Francis.

The lower of the two is an entrance from which a stairway cut into the rocky wall leads to the Saint's grotto. The space is characterised by a small 14th century altar above which there is a 17th century painting depicting the Angel that appeared to Saint Francis reassuring him of the remission of his sins.

Rough-cut steps from the rock lead to the upper level (the construction is dated 1634) where one can admire a tiny altar and a painting depicting the Saint in prayer and the blessed Egidio at rest.

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Docup Obiettivo 2 Regione Lazio
Programmazione 2000-2006 Dipartimento Sociale
Asse III – Misura III.2 Direzione Regionale
Sottomisura III.2.2 Cultura Sport e Turismo
Area "Strutture Turistiche e Demanio"