Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel

 

The Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo sul Gargano, sometimes called simply Monte Gargano, is a Catholic sanctuary on Mount Gargano, Italy, part of the commune of Monte Sant’Angelo, in the province of Foggia – here the Archangel Michael is said to have appeared in 490, 492 and 1656.

St. Michael the Archangel first appeared at Monte Sant’Angelo in 490. According to tradition, it all started when a local nobleman named Elvio Emmanuele lost the best bull of his herd. After much searching, he found it kneeling in a cave. Unable to approach it, Elvio shot the bull with an arrow, but the arrow turned around and struck the man instead.

Bewildered (and presumably bleeding), Elvio went to see his bishop, who ordered three days of prayer and fasting. At the end of the three days, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to the bishop.

The bishop, however, began to worry about his own sanity and dismissed the vision. Two years later, the Christian city of Siponto, part of the bishop’s diocese, came under attack by the pagan city of Odoacre. Again St. Michael appeared to the bishop, this time promising to save the city of Siponto. Immediately, a violent storm engulfed Odoacre, saving the Christian city. In thanksgiving, the bishop led a procession to the top of the mountain but did not dare to enter the cave.

Soon, Michael appeared to the bishop a third time, ordering him to enter the cave.

The bishop then entered the grotto, where he found an altar covered with a red cloth, a crystal cross, and a footprint on the ground. The bishop thereupon commissioned a chapel to built at the entrance to the cave and did not consecrate it because Michael had already done so. The church came to be known as the Celestial Basilica.

St. Michael made another appearance here in 1656 during a great plague. The local bishop invoked St. Michael for protection, and the archangel appeared to him. The plague then ceased, and the mountain shrine became more popular than ever.

The sanctuary has been a popular place of pilgrimage for many centuries: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Gerard Majella, St. William of Vercelli and six popes have made the pilgrimage here to ask for St. Michael’s protection.

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