Galgano Guidotti

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Saint Galgano Guidotti
Pietro di giovanni d'ambrogio, adorazione dei pastori tra i ss. galgano e agostino, da. agostino, 12.JPG
15th-century portrait by Giovanni d'Ambrogio
Born 1148
Chiusdino, Siena, Italy
Died 1181
Montesiepi, Tuscany, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 1185 by Pope Lucius III
Feast 30 November

Saint Galgano (1148 – December 3, 1181[1]) 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.[2] A lot of Saint Galgano's life is known through the documents of the canonization process in 1185[3] and other Vitae: Legenda beati Galgani[4] by anonymous, Legenda beati Galgani confessoris by an unknown Cistercian monk,[5] Leggenda di Sancto Galgano,[6] Vita sancti Galgani de Senis,[7] Vita beati Galgani.[8]


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 on top Montesiepi where his vision happened. 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 one piece with the ground so that nobody could remove it. A story says that in one of the visions, he was told to renounce material things. He, stating that it would be as hard as splitting a rock, decided to make his point by attempting to plunge his sword into one. The story goes on saying that the "stone yielded like butter".[9]

The sword in the stone at Montesiepi Chapel

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 the ground, and is said to be the sword of San Galgano.

A round church was built over the purported tomb, 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.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ His alleged date of death is December 3, 1181, but other scholars assign it to November 30, 1180. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates Saint Galgano on November 30, as ordered in 2004 by Pope Johannes Paul II.
  2. ^ As reported by A. Vauchez in "La santità nel medioevo", Il Mulino, Bologna, 1989
  3. ^ 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).
  4. ^ Codice Laurenziano, 14th century
  5. ^ Codice di Siena, 15th century
  6. ^ Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. Chigi M. V. 118, 15th century.
  7. ^ Codice di Veroli, 15th century.
  8. ^ Codice Laurenziano, 15th century.
  9. ^ Dhwty, [1]
  10. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Saints/David Hugh Farmer 1997 Oxford University Press

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