The Holy Mount of San Vivaldo

Holy-Mount-san-vivaldo

The Legend

In San Vivaldo, a small hamlet of Montaione, is the only Holy Mount of Tuscany, a place of great religious, historic and artistic interest.

The site dates back to 1220d.C. when there was a church guarded by the Friars of the Cross of Normandy, and which was already mentioned as "Ecclesia San Vivaldi" as dedicated to St. Vivaldo.

In the fourteenth century there was established a hermit, who was also named Vivaldo, belonging to the family Stricchi from San Gimignano, that after having experienced all sorts of luxury and waste of money, he decided to seek help from a certain priest Bartolo who introduced Vivaldo to a Christian life based on penance and fasting. Vivaldo moved well in a dorm near the ancient church of Santa Maria a Camporena, that the present chapel of St. Francesco in San Vivaldo, where he was welcomed as a Wanderer, and then later he built a shelter in a huge Chestnut tree, where he lived the last years of his life and where he was found dead at the age of 60 years by the inhabitants of Montaione.

The legend says that the huge chestnut tree in which he lived Vivaldo, disappeared at his death because of the frenzy of the devotees who came from everywhere to take a piece of the tree, considered a relic.

The building

However, the complex of Holy Mount, in italian "Sacro Monte", was built much later, between 1500 and 1515 by the Friar called "Fra' Tommaso" from Florence, belonging to the order of Friars Minor.

The feature that distinguishes this from other monastery is definitely the group of chapels scattered in the woods around the church.



You must know that at that time the pilgrimages to the Holy Land were as popular as very dangerous because of the Turks, who controlled Palestine. For this reason, Fra' Tommaso simply decided to create a surrogate, a miniature replica of the holy places around Jerusalem with the aim to represent life, passion and death of Jesus Christ by building a series of chapels, according to a given mystical path and that the pilgrims could visit without any danger.

The Jerusalem of Tuscany

So the Convent of San Vivaldo, soon became a place of veneration and pilgrimage, especially after the Pope Leo X issued a bull, with which he promised to grant an indulgence to all pilgrims who had gone to pray there. And recent studies show that the project was thoroughly studied and performed with a precision so maniacal from Fra' Tommaso so that there is no wonder that many called this complex "the Jerusalem of Tuscany."

The Sacro Monte, which in 1685 had 28 chapels, attained considerable importance when Pope Innocent XIII and Grand Duke Cosimo III declared it a place of "retreat for the punishment of priests."

Then in 1808 it was abandoned and the Franciscan Friars returned there in 1887 were they remained there until today, although today there are only two.

Terracottas and the Edicole

Of great value are also the "Terracotta" pottery found in the chapels and representatives of the scenes from the life of Jesus. A Must-see the rich terracotta figures in the chapel "L'Andata al Calvario", with Roman soldiers with the sign SPQR, the two thieves, and the suffering faces of the crowd in contrast to the serene face of Jesus as he carries the cross. Full of meaning are also the Edicole Crucifige and Ecce Homo, representing the scene in which Pilate scourged Jesus to the crowd exclaiming "Ecce Homo" meaning "Behold the man you wanted to punish" and asks "who you want to free: Jesus or Barabbas? " and they said, "Barabbas" and the question of Pilate addressed the crowd, "What do I do with Jesus?" and the chief priests answered, "Crucify him."

terracotte-edicole-ecce-homo

The interaction with the Pilgrims

The Holy Mount of San Vivaldo is a mystical place, intense, rich in history, where the pilgrim is intentionally emotionally involved actively in his own spiritual path in order to understands in the best way the true story and life of Christ.

An example of this interaction is in the clay of Barabbas, where a popular belief says that if a woman looking for a husband had thrown a stone into the cavity where the clay it was she would be married within 1 year, but ironically the clay was completely destroyed...

Conclusion

You could talk for days yet about this wonderful complex set in the woods between Montaione and San Gimignano, but we prefer to leave to the reader the flavor of mystery and fascination of discovery. A place to visit with calm and tranquility during your holiday in Tuscany.

For this we suggest a stay at an accommodation in ​​Montaione, San Gimignano or Gambassi Terme, which are very short distance from this beautiful paradise of soul searching.


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