A peculiar aspect of religiousness of Abruzzo in Middle Ages is the presence of nearly hundred hermitages concentrated above all near the mountains. It is thanks to a relaxing setting that allows believers to be all one with their spirituality.
Hermitage of Saint Spirit at Majella
It represents the most important and known hermitage of Majella. It is situated at Roccamorice (PE).
It was built before XI century. The first information about it goes back to the year 1053 when it became the home of the man who would become Pope Vittore III and, in 1246, of Pietro dal Morrone, another future Pope with the name of Celestino V. The greatest works of renovation of this wonderful masterpiece are due to Pietro dal Morrone.
The hermitage hosted important guests such as Torquato Tasso, Cola da Rienzo, Roberto Salle.
Besides, Francesco Petrarca mentioned him in his latin prose treaty “De vita Solitaria “.
It is nestled in a rocky wall : it has undergone many changes with the passing of the time and today it is like this : there is a church , a sacristy and a monastic complex on a double floor.
Hermitage of Saint Bartolomeo in Legio
We find it in the municipality of Roccamorice (PE), in the area of ” Parco Nazionale della Majella”.
It is one of the most beautiful and suggestive in Abruzzo. It is situated on a rocky spur at 600 metres height, literary nestled in the rock. It was built during the XI century.
Pietro dal Morrone, who became pope Celestino, restored it.
He lived there for two years, from 1274 to 1276. The heritage is totally carved in the rock.
You can reach it through a suggestive stair that leads to a big rocky space : it looks like a terrace and takes to a wall that is the entrance to the church-chapel where Pietro da Morrone lived.
The wall is covered with frescos that have been ruined with the passing of the time.
The church is small and cosy and has a small window overlooking Vallone di Santo Spirito.
A great spirituality is in the air and its visit is an unforgottable experience.
Don’t miss the celebrations in honour of the saint hold on 25th August : a long procession develops through the paths that take to the hermitage.
The believers alternate carrying the wooden statue of Saint Bartolomeo.
At the dawn of that day, a mass is celebrated inside the hermitage and, after that, the believers go to the stream Capo la Vena to cover themselves with water according to an ancient rite.
Cave Sant’Angelo is also called hermitage or cave of Saint Michele : it is situated in the province of Teramo, in the municipality of Civitella del Tronto ( hamlet Ripe of Civitella ), inside the natural reserve gorge of Salinello. It is considered one of the most important rocky caves of Italian pre-historic times. For centuries it has been an important place of worship but today it is a place of pilgrimages in honour of Saint Michele Arcangelo:
On 1st of may and 29th september of every year a mass is still celebrated there.
Once inside, we find the first room from where you can go upstairs through a stair : here you find a place overlooking the valley of Salinello gorges from where you can enjoy a wonderful view.
Inside the cave a museum has been placed for some time: it tells the story of the site to the visitors through panels and imagines.
It is easy to get to the cave: it is a 10 minute walk, going up and down among the wonderful landscapes of the Salinello gorges.
Cave of Saint Angelo and rocky church of Saint Agata D’Ugno.
The cave of Saint Angelo is situated in the municipality of Parco Nazionale della Majella and of the natural reserve of Fara San Martino Palombaro, a protected area since 1983.
It is situated in Sant’ Agata D’Ugno at about 1.000 metres of height and at a few km. from the town centre.
Unlike the other caves that we find around, it keeps “a treasure” inside it : the small rocky church of Sant’Agata D’Ugno. It has a semi- circular structure that comes from the rocky wall.
It was built between the XI and XII century. According to the tradition, the church was built on a temple devoted to the fertility goddess Bona. It is said that once women used to go to the cave to wet their naked breast with the water kept in four carved into the rock cisterns in the cave.
It seemed that this rite fostered plenty of milk.
Later the church of Saint Agata D’Ugno became a worship place for Saint Michele Arcangelo.
Hermitage of Saint Onofrio – Serramonacesca
The hermitage is part of Parco of Nazionale of Majella and is situated in the municipality of Serramonacesca (PE) at about 725 metres of height: It was built by benedictine monks but the exact time is still uncertain: it might have been built between the XI and XIV century . Its style is romanic and it was built under a big rock using the caves on the same rocky walls. It has two floors.Upstairs there is the charming little church. In a corner of the cave there is a bed called ‘saint Onofrio’s cradle’ : here the believers lay down to cure stomach ache or persistent fevers.
Hermitage of Saint Venanzio
The hermitage is situated in a marvellous and pure natural environment : on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Aterno –Pescara like a bridge between the narrow walls of the gorge with the same name, that is San Venanzio gorges in the municipality of Raiano (AQ).
Its name derives from the young Venanzio that converted to Christianity around the middle of 200 year and decided to withdraw in this place with his master Porfirio.
It has three altars, a central one and two at the sides of the church. The holy stair is in front of the major one ; it is carved into the rock and takes to the most ancient part of the hermitage, a small cave called “the little cross” much loved by believers because here it was possible to glimpse on the rock the shape of the saint in prayer: if you touched it , it was easier to get better in case of aches and pains.