Saint Galgano Guidotti
15th-century portrait by Giovanni d'Ambrogio
Chiusdino, Siena, Italy
Montesiepi, Tuscany, Italy
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1185 by Pope Lucius III|
Saint Galgano (1148 – 3 December 1181)[a] was a Catholic saint from Tuscany born in Chiusdino, in the modern province of Siena, Italy. His mother's name was Dionigia, while his father's name (Guido or Guidotto) only appeared in a document dated in the 16th century, when the last name Guidotti was attributed.
The canonization process to declare Galgano a saint started in 1185, only a few years after his death, and his canonization was the first conducted with a formal process by the Roman Church. A lot of Saint Galgano's life is known through the documents of the canonization process in 1185 and other Vitae: Legenda beati Galgani by anonymous, Legenda beati Galgani confessoris by an unknown Cistercian monk, Leggenda di Sancto Galgano, Vita sancti Galgani de Senis, Vita beati Galgani.
Galgano is said to have led a ruthless life in his early years, but later abandoned it in favour of a pious hermitage in the place now known as Rotonda di Montesiepi. His mother, Dionigia, is believed to have reported that Galgano had two visions, both involving Archangel Michael: in the first vision the Archangel told Galgano that he was going to be protected by the Archangel himself. In the second vision, Galgano was following the Archangel and they arrived to the hill of Montesiepi where they met the twelve Apostles and the Creator himself. After the visions, it is said that Galgano's horse refused to obey his orders and led him to the top of Montesiepi, where he received his visions. Convinced that this was a sign, Galgano decided to plant a cross. Since he had no way to make one of wood, he planted his sword in the ground. The sword is said to have immediately become fused with the ground so that nobody could remove it. One story says that, in one of the visions, he was told to renounce material things. He, stating that it would be as easy as splitting a rock, decided to make his point by plunging his sword into one. As the legend has it, the sword went through the stone like a knife through butter.
Galgano died in 1181. Soon after, in 1184, a round church was built over his purported tomb to honor him, where pilgrims came in large numbers and miracles were claimed. In that year Cistercian monks took over Montesiepi at the request of Hugh, bishop of Volterra, but most of Galgano's monks left, scattered over Tuscany, and became Augustinian hermits. By 1220 a large Cistercian monastery was built below Galgano's hermitage: they then claimed him as a Cistercian saint. His cult was lively in Siena and Volterra, where numerous representations survive. The ruins of his hermitage can still be seen, while his cloak is kept in the church of Santuccio at Siena.
The sword in the stone
The sword in the stone can be seen at the Rotonda at Montesiepi, near the ruins of the Abbey of San Galgano. The handle of a sword protrudes from a stone, and is said to be the sword of San Galgano. An analysis of the metal done in 2001 by Luigi Garlaschelli confirmed that the "composition of the metal and the style are compatible with the era of the legend". The analysis also confirmed that the upper piece and the invisible lower one are authentic and belong to one and the same artifact.
In the media
Saint Galgano's "sword in the stone" story was featured in a season 7 episode of TV series, Forged in Fire. Bladesmiths had to recreate "Excalibur", a medieval broadsword inspired by Galgano's story. The episode explained the story as follows: the actual Sword in the Stone is located in Siena, Italy, and believed to have belonged to Saint Galgano.
- His alleged date of death is 3 December 1181, but other scholars assign it to 30 November 1180. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates Saint Galgano on 30 November, as ordered in 2004 by Pope Johannes Paul II.
- As reported by A. Vauchez in "La santità nel medioevo", Il Mulino, Bologna, 1989
- Inquisitio in partibus, transcribed by Sigismondo Tizio in Historiae Senenses and transcribed in "Analecta Toscana IV; Der Einsiedler Galgano von chiusino und die Anfange von San Galgano" by Fedor Schneider (1914–1924).
- Codice Laurenziano, 14th century
- Codice di Siena, 15th century
- Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. Chigi M. V. 118, 15th century.
- Codice di Veroli, 15th century.
- Codice Laurenziano, 15th century.
- Ḏḥwty (28 April 2015). "The Legendary Sword in the Stone of San Galgano". Ancient Origins. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Haegen, Anne Mueller von der; Strasser, Ruth F. (2013). "Chiusdino". Art & Architecture: Tuscany. Potsdam: H.F.Ullmann Publishing. p. 424. ISBN 978-3-8480-0321-1.
- Oxford Dictionary of Saints/David Hugh Farmer 1997 Oxford University Press
- Carroll, Rory (16 September 2001). "Tuscany's Excalibur is the real thing, say scientists". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
- Chodyński, Antoni Romuald; Chodyński, Antoni Romuald (2014). Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae. Fasc. 27 (2014). Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Polish Academy of Sciences.
- The Life of Saint Galgano on Audiobook by Alleluia Audiobooks (on mp3)
- What to do in and around San Galgano Abbey (with Google Map)
- website with information about San Galgano Abbey
- Discovering San-Galganos Abbey
- San-Galgano and the sword in the stone; King Arthur in Tuscany
- Very informative website about the Abbey of San Galgano, history, pictures, info, map, accommodation and lots more
- Reaudrigue Kazarian, anthropologist