Updated: Apr 27, 2019
A sacred place of the Catholic faith, La Verna Sanctuary, perched high on a cliff overlooking the valleys is a beautiful place of tranquility. It is located on the isolated Mount Penna (1,283 meters) of the Casentino Valley in Central Italy.
Coming from a different faith outside of Christianity, I initially didn’t realize the importance of this Sanctuary. My Roman friend, traveling with me briefed me on the relevance of the Catholic Mysticism that is believed to have taken place here. La Verna is where Saint Francis (A holy Saint) was Venerated. Even on a short visit, one can get a sense of its cultural, historical and religious interest.
To get to the main church, we had to walk a bit, and the path was dry and barren at the time. Green algae and mosses added the lovely autumn colors to the barren landscape. Once atop the mountain, it was surprisingly deserted. We didn't notice anybody in the vicinity and were left to explore the area by ourselves.
The main church around the various chapels are exquisite, and the detail is awe-inspiring. Passing through an arched door, we entered a portico built between 1578 and 1582. It hosts plenty of beautiful paintings on the wall showcasing the significance of the Religious site. More chapels also commemorate the miracles of other saints. These chapels contain numerous treasures of art, notably the beautiful terracotta by "the Old and the Young" Della Robbia, along with other paintings and fresco.
As we entered the basilica, inside the hall, there was a pope who welcomed us showing the lay of the land. Most of it went above my head as he conversed in Italian. He did insist on my friend translating the details to me. The talk was entertaining and enlightening as he showed us locations on the site that is easily overlooked otherwise.
Halfway down the corridor is an ancient door, covered with studs, leading to a dark grotto at the end. Amidst that is a large slab of stone where St.Francis was believed to seek shelter and used the rough stone as a bed. The stone is protected behind a metal grate as it holds miraculous powers and visitors were grabbing away small pieces of it with them.
Another door at the end of the chapel seemed ordinary until we stepped outside to discover the Panoramic view of the entire valley. It had a gully with stairs probably heading all the way to another detached rock. A rail lets you safely admire the landscape around you. We could imagine why St Francis had chosen this site for his prayers and meditation.
Behind the buildings is a well-preserved spruce-beech forest which provides as a habitat of a vast array of plants and animals. We walked long enough in the backwoods to hear the chirping of numerous birds. Although the climb seemed treacherous, the walk through the forest trail of tall trees with moss covered rocks is wondrous. Once on top of the cliff, the glimpses of the landscape are frightening as there isn’t any picket for caution.
A spirit of prayer and contemplation permeates the entire sanctuary. The forest surrounding seems to embrace this holy place perched on the mountainside.
Regardless of your belief, La Verna ought to be visited to embrace the silence that illuminates your inner spirituality that is often ignored and forgotten.
For more information find the official link,
Visa: Schengen Visa Required for Indians
Travel: By car, Tour Package Available
Cost: Free Entry
Shilpa Srinivas @flohwithme