srisa-florence

SANTA REPARATA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF ART
FLORENCE-ITALY

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SAN GALGANO AND MONTE SIEPI
THE WONDERFUL ROOFLESS CHURCH IN THE SENESE COUNTRYSIDE

Something about San Galgano (source www.sangalgano.org)


It's towards the end of 1100 A.D.. The story that we are about to tell centers around a round chapel, a knight and a sword in the stone. But instead of the mythical kingdom of Camelot, we are in Montesiepi, in the heart of Tuscany. The sword in the stone is not Excalibur and the knight is not King Arthur. Its mystery is kept in a book that has been sealed for more than 800 years. A book that could reveal many of the secrets that surround the search for the Holy Grail. Galgano Guidotti was born in Chiusdino in 1148, the only son of Guido and Dionisia. From his youth, Galgano leads rather a dissolute life, until, at the age of 32, the Archangel Gabriel appears to him in a dream and tells him to follow him. In the dream, Galgano receives an order from the 12 apostles to build a round chapel at Montesiepi and to retire there to live. His mother and friends try to convince him to desist, but his horse takes fright and takes him to Montesiepi. At Montesiepi, Galgano thrusts the Sword forcefully into the ground to make a cross and miraculously the Sword gets stuck in the stone. This situation causes quite a sensation and Montesiepi becomes filled with many pilgrims asking Galgano to outperform Miracles. Before his canonization in 1185, 19 such miracles occur.
In 1190 a French writer wrote a lengthy text telling the story of a king and other riders who leave in search of a mysterious object, which is the Holy Grail. A few years later, another German writer tells a similar story and writes the Parsifal. Much of what these writers tell in their works have strange similarities with the sword in the stone that is found in this church.
There are many coincidences and when analyzed in detail they are even more impressive because the life of Galgano of Montesiepi, as certified in the beatification, corresponds almost entirely to the life of Parsifal. The Grail is the chalice of the Last Supper, or the container that collected the blood of Christ and the Round Chapel at Montesiepi, reminiscent of an upside down cup, would be just such a representation. Many have indicated the place as a possible hiding place of the Holy Grail. Testimonies speak of a secret underground cavity which is accessed by moving a single stone in the floor of the anteroom. No one has yet succeeded in finding the secret passage, but in addition, the Grail and the Sword in the Stone point to a connection that may exist between Galgano and King Arthur, that they could perhaps be one in the same person?
What emerges quite clearly in the novels of the round table is the fact that at the beginning, this gentleman, Galvano, whose name resembles very closely Galgano, plays an important role in the tale of the round table, as he is known as the "first Knight". Then there is a gradual phenomenon of the name fading away over the years, due to the evolution of the tales of the round table, and the name of Galvano becomes less important, as if the novels about the round table no longer have need of this Tuscan knight.
What is certain is that, in the representations of the Knights of the Round Table, the Sword Excalibur often appears in the hands of Galvano and the mysteries of Montesiepi do not end here. When Galgano dies, the round chapel is built, which according to many scholars constitutes a real book in stone. Whomever is able to interpret it, will then know the secret of the Holy Grail.
Galgano dies in 1181 and in record time the Church proclaims him a Saint. In fact, only four years later, Pope Lucius III acts with the swift canonization process of the Knight. Yet San Galgano was not a very venerated Saint during those years, in as much as, his message was inspired as an act of peace. Planting a sword in the stone to pray, was the opposite of what the church needed during the bellicose era of the Crusades. In the literature of that era it is possible that San Galgano becomes King Arthur and that his legendary sword was used instead to defy the infidels.
A few years ago, a confirmation: the University of Pavia certified that the sword is actually from the 12th century. The Enigma of San Galgano, however, is likely to remain a mystery. The truth lies indeed impenetrable among the records regarding his canonization which are kept in custody in the safe of the Consistory of Siena. A truth sealed for eternity? What seems certain is that the myth of King Arthur has completely stolen the true story of the Tuscan Saint and, perhaps, the real sword in the stone is here, in Italy. 



Official website of San Galgano
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