A great place on the path of St Benedict, where knowledge is preserved
Holy Valley: The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta
The place where the walks of St Francis and St Benedict meet
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta is where the walks of St. Francis and St. Benedict meet. It is a beautiful place 480 meters above sea level where St. Francis performed the miracle of the grapes.
Here is a vegetable plot kept like a wonderful garden by the people of MONDO X community, producing also some excellent Sagrantino wine. Pilgrims can find here hospitality, don’t miss a visit during your trekking through the Holy Valley.
Video full text: Santa Maria della Foresta
We’re arriving at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta with the group of trekkers from the Rieti secton of the Italian Alpine Club
We’re now at 480 metres above sea level
The perfect height!
Over there, at the crossroads, where the fountain is located, is where the walk of St. Benedict starts
Whereas the walk of St. Francis continues here
It’s really beautiful
This is where St. Francis performed the miracle of the grapes
In this marvellous place that is now set up and organised as a vegetable plot
Actually it’s more of a garden than a vegetable plot
I wonder if the famous grapevine in the miracle produced the sagrantino grape
There is a link between Sagrantino wine and St. Francis, so let me explain
Sagrantino wine is called thus because it is sacred
It was used for the Mass and it is said that it actually arrived with Francis
who brought it back for his companions after a trip to the Middle East.
It is the original vine, from biblical times
The one that Noah planted, on leaving the ark, and that produced the wine on which he got drunk
So much so that his children found him very tipsy!
Here’s the vine of St. Francis
There was a “culinary miracle” here, similar to one that Jesus once also performed
One year this vine produced very few bunches of grapes
That year it had not produced it’s entire crop and the wine that would usually come from it
Francis told them to gather in the few bunches of grapes just the same,
to crush them and make what little wine they could
So they did just that. However, they actually ended up with a lot of wine!
This year too the harvest is poor, what a coincidence!
That’s due to a late frost that burned all the buds
But there’s no St Francis here…
You help us then!
This vegetable plot is kept like a garden, there are even some roses
Roses planted at the end of a row of grapes keep harmful insects away
This beautiful vegetable plot is run by the MONDO X community.
Emar, one of the community, tells me about it
Hi Emar, you belong to the community that runs this place, the vegetable plot
These are products that we need for our own consumption and so that we don’t become a burden on the local community
It’s all organised down to the last millimetre, absolutely geometric!
It was also intended to be this way so as to bring order to the community’s market gardeners
A sort of spiritual exercise, to find that famous X
The world is all of us, the X is the unknown that lies within every one of us
The X or the cross, that is also the crossroads of the walks
It is a constant symbol that we also find in this valley
We’re in the centre of Italy and this too is an X, but a positive one
It’s an unknown, but also a possibility
It is here that passing pilgrims also find hospitality
So we could sleep here as well?!
I could stop! Wow, not bad
All that remains is for me to enjoy the peace in this place
Among the cloisters and little churches from medieval times
We see two different churches, one was built later
But St Francis saw the older one, the little church of St. Fabiano
With this altar it faced in this direction
Subsequently the church was opened and also turned to face another direction
But this was the original, very small church
Here in St Anna della Foresta there is also a cave where Francis would spend time in prayer
It would seem that Francis would huddle inside, here, in this cave
He would assume this position
I imagine him like that, in meditation
This cave was like a mother’s womb, the most welcoming place one can find