Mount Labbro and David Lazzaretti

Approaching the territory of Mont Amiata in Maremma, you can’t but help notice the sharp and desolate profile of the dormant volcano Mount Labbro. At the summit (1193 metres above sea level) where the winds buffet the lonely peak, there is a building almost like a Mesopotamian, and there are ziggurat. Ruins of low buildings are dotted around the bleak landscape, buildings that should have been the realization of a dream, the buildings of a new Zion, intended to be the launch pad of a renewed and just world.

Seemingly the folly of a single man, the project was actively and enthusiastically supported by the local population who were drawn by the charismatic David Lazzaretti a humble wagon driver and child of the earth, who behaved like a prophet with a divine purpose.

We are talking about the time just before the Unification of Italy, an event which would have brought more misery. The poor saw in David a liberator from injustice and bearer of hope. The wealthy, including some members of the clergy, initially tolerated the movement, but slowly turned against him as it gained momentum and showed signs of becoming a serious movement that in Christian terms predicated communal ownership of property.

For this reason, Lazzaretti was arrested and condemned by the Sant’Uffizio. On the 18th August 1878 Lazzaretti headed a large procession that come down from the mountain Labbro that would have sanctioned his role as a manifestation of Christ. Together with the celebrating crowd, Lazzaretti was greeted by the carabinieri, sent by the state, and who opened fire on his unarmed followers, killing Lazzeretti and three others. Nonetheless the movement and its rites and symbols lives on. Even today, every August 18, members of the movement, called the giursdavidico, make a pilgrammage to the top of the mountain, to the Tower of David for a vigil of prayer and reflection.

Mount Labbro, which can only be reached by a difficult walk jealously keeps its secrets and maintains its magical fascination and it’s not by chance that Lazzaretti chose it as a site for the city of his visions. But even before him others had the same idea and under the enigmatic tower there is a huge cave that was used as a refuge for hermits or maybe for pagan rituals. Locals say that these slopes have an particolar energy. Whether you believe it or not it is indisputable that this place invites meditation and contemplation of all things sacred.

It’s not by chance that nearby a Buddist community, and this is the birth and burial place of Father Ernesto Balducci, a prophetic voice of modern Catholicism.

At the moment the figure of David Lazzaretti is also under historical re-evaluation. In Arcidosso, there is a Centre of Study of Lazzaretti with a large archive and remarkable collection of relics of the man and his movement. If you are in the area, it’s worth a visit, for the information in the centre, and the charm of the territory of Mont Amiata.

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