La Verna – The Blessed Mountain

La Verna - The Blessed MountainMonte non ha più santo il mondo

This phrase, which in old Italian means there is no mountain more sacred than this is written on a door that opens onto an old and very steep road that leads from the valley of La Verna up to the monestary in the dense green of the Casentino. Today it is a challenging walk and though many of you may prefer to come by the road, definately less tiring.

Coming by car also means you’ll miss the striking beauty of the first sight of the monastery, that you come across suddenly, a small group of simple stone buildings, with roofs of slate. Right below there are a myriad of paths that are overshadowed by huge masses of stone that seem to be about to tumble down.

This mountain was a favourite place for Saint Francesco and during the last few years of his life and he spent much of his time here. In 1213 he came here in search of a quiet, lonely place where he could rest. At 40 years of age, after struggling with the gruelling treatments he had undergone to try to cure his incroaching blindness, he suffered a crisis of doubt regarding his beliefs. In September 1224 during a particularly difficult time, his reached his most moving time. Perched on a vertiginous drop, the markings of the stigmata appeared on his hands. Two years later he died, only a little more than 40 years of age.

Eight centuries have passed since. Today this mountain is still very much the same as before with its charming landscapes, and brooding atmosphere. The buildings still seem simple, as they are essentially made from rock and wood.

The monks who are found within this area, keep their rituals unchanged. They are known to walk to the entrance of the valley every evening, in order to get to the Chapel of the Stigmata. They are very proud of their bigger ceremonys which involve artificial lighting which highlight the valley delicately.

The combination of mountains covered in forestland and a landscape full of valleys, collectively create a unique presence. A big cross made of two simple logs, defines the sky, making it a perfect setting.

Caught up in a life which is rich in the uproar of everyday life, you can come here to enjoy the warm rays of the sun and fill your lungs with the peace of Francesco, whos presence is always represented here.

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