Monte Sant’Angelo, Italy: Saint Michael’s Cave
The story of Saint Michael’s Cave:
In the year 490, when a nobleman of this small village lost the best bull in his herd, he went searching for him and found the bull kneeling in a deserted cave. The cave was inacessible, and so in order to scare the bull out of the cave, the nobleman shot an arrow at it….but to his amazement the arrow turned around and struck him instead! Stunned by this apparently supernatural event, the man went to see the local bishop for advice.
The Bishop, uncertain of whether this was of divine origin or not, ordered 3 days of prayer and fasting. Saint Michael also appeared to the Bishop; however, he had his doubts about the apparition, thinking perhaps he had just dreamed it, and decided to ignore it and put it out of his mind.
When, a few years later, a city in the Bishop’s diocese was threatened with annihilation by pagans, Saint Michael again appeared to the Bishop and promised that the city would be spared if the townspeople would attack the enemy in faith, and it was spared.
Even after that, the Bishop had doubts, and still did not have a church built on the site of the cave. But it was constantly on his mind, so in the following year as the anniversary of the apparition approached, he appealed to the Pope for guidance. The Pope ordered the Bishop, along with other Bishops and Priests, to go to the cave for three days of prayer and fasting.
Not wishing to go in to the cave, the Bishop prayed at the entrance and then, on the third day, once again Saint Michael appeared to him.
Saint Michael said: “I am Michael the Archangel and am always in the presence of God. I chose the cave as sacred to me. There will be no more shedding of bull’s blood. Where the rocks open widely, the sins of men may be pardoned. What is asked here in prayer will be granted. Therefore, go up to the mountain cave and dedicate it to the Christian God.”
He ordered the Bishop to enter the cave, telling him that it was not necessary for him to consecrate the cave since he, Saint Michael, had already done it. It is the only building of worship in the Catholic Church that has not been consecrated by man.
In due time, the church earned the distinction of “the Celestial Basilica.”
Saint Michael’s Cave is one of the seven sacred sites along an imaginary line stretching from Ireland to Israel, known as “The Sword of Saint Michael“.
Visiting Saint Michael’s Cave:
This is one of the holiest places in Italy and indeed throughout Christendom, located on the eastern coast of Italy, close to Padre Pio’s shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo. It has been visited by countless popes and saints: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clarvaux, Saint Bridget of Sweden, at least 7 popes including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Saint Francis of Assisi considered it to be so holy that he would not even enter it.
In the Roman Catholic Church the Feast of the Appearing (or Apparition) of St. Michael the Archangel is on May 8.
Today Masses are held regularly by pilgrim groups and anyone may enter. The cave was often visited by Saint Padre Pio, and we highly recommend that anyone going to his shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo plan to include it as well.
The Church built over the cave (shown here in the photo) gives little evidence of its importance until you enter and descend into the cave.
Click here for a great selection of Saint Michael statues, Medals, Scapulars and more in our online store.
Traveling to Saint Michael’s Cave:
It is only about a one-hour drive from Padre Pio’s Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo to the cave. Many tour groups include a stop here as part of the itinerary, especially if they are going to Padre Pio’s shrine.
If you are traveling by train, there is service from Rome and Naples as far as Foggia. From there you can take a bus directly to Monte SantAngelo (about 30 miles). Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Via Reale Basilica, 127, 71037 Monte Sant’Angelo (FG) Italy
GPS coordinates: 41° 42′ 28.6668” N, 15° 57′ 16.8912” E
Tel: +39 0884 561150 Fax: +39 0884 568126
e-mail: [email protected]