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SAN GALGANO'S ABBEY: WHAT IF KING ARTHUR WAS TUSCAN?

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San Galgano

If it is known that most of the legends have a fund of truth that often gets lost in the meanders of history, it is surprising instead that some popular traditions and religious cults apparently very distant from each other find themselves having a common thread that binds and unites them.
This is the case of Montesiepi and the myth of the sword in the stone, which has later become a Disney cult.
How beautiful it was as a child to be bewitched by the Breton cycle and by the sagas of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. But what if we told you that the sword in the stone, in reality, is not found, as one could easily suppose, in a manor on the shores of the English Channel, but in a small rural center of Tuscany, in Val di Merse, in the plain between Monticiano (SI) and Chiusdino (SI)?

Entering the Abbey of San Galgano, in fact, we can really come across a real sword stuck in the stone by the hand of the knight Galgano Guidotti.

It is the full twelfth century and Galgano, a young man of noble origins, after a first part of his life that was not very virtuous and religious, decides to convert, following two successive visions in which the Archangel Michael showed him a path and inviting him to follow him. Galgano crossed a bridge and reached Montesiepi where he found himself in front of a circular building and, to access it, he had to go through an underground passage. Inside, the twelve apostles awaited him.

In the following days he retraced the route he had seen and it was in Montesiepi that his horse refused to advance. Galgano did not see the circular structure in which he had entered, but he understood that the exact place in which his steed had stuck would have became a sacred place. Around him he found no branch to make a cross, so he drew his sword and drove it into the ground. The underlying stone became miraculously tender as butter and sank the weapon almost to the hilt. He then decided to plant the sword. And the weapon sticks so well into the ground - with the hilt that draws a perfect cross in the air - that neither Galgano nor anyone else was able to extract it.

But what ultimately links King Arthur to San Galgano? One of the most accredited theory would link them to the same symbolic elements, but inverted, as if they were mirror images: King Arthur creates a round table surrounded by other knights and therefore soldiers representing earthly power; Galgano, finding itself in a circular place, a rotunda, with the exact point of the divine vision at its center, where the sword was planted in the stone, becomes a center of the world that connects the three cosmic areas: earth, sky and that sort of underworld consisting of the underlying cave.
Furthermore, Arthur became king by drawing his sword from the stone (or an anvil); while Galgano performs the opposite gesture by thrusting his sword and thus stripping himself of the military role to assume the religious one.

There are few places in the world capable of thrilling visitors and leaving them completely speechless, arousing sensations of intense and complete suggestion, like this church.
As perhaps only happens at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and Notre Dame de Paris, what is most shocking for the emotion is the light that pervades the structure.
In fact, the absence of the roof, which was destroyed in 1786 by a lightning, allows the light to change with the passing of the hours, creeping between the bricks, highlighting the columns and illuminating the sculpted capitals.

It doesn't take much to fall in love with the Abbey of San Galgano, but spending a few hours inside it, at sunrise or sunset, can unleash a passion without limits. And if you have the opportunity, let the evening go down and admire it being illuminated by a skilful play of lights that highlight its austere and solemn lines.
If you love taking pictures you will not be able to contain yourself: thousands of shots will not be enough to satisfy you and you will want to continue, return, let yourself be taken again by the infinite magic of this place.

  • Cultura
  • Romantica
  • Rurale