La Verna, rising above the valley of the Casentino, a few kilometres from the small town of Chiusi della Verna, is one of the most important places of devotion for Franciscans. Numerous visitors find the place really moving. I guess because it awakens your senses and combines all the crucial elements for reflection and communion with nature. Here you can relax and restore your spirit.
The Sanctuary can be reached by car, driving along the winding road lined up with spruce and beech trees of the National Park of Casentino forests.
This pilgrimage site, situated in the centre of the Tuscan Apennines, about 43 km northeast of Arezzo and 120 km northwest of Assisi, offers priceless views and silence of the remote countryside, which justifies the special affection of the visitors.
The mountain known as La Verna was given to Saint Francis by Count Orlando of Chiusi in 1213, as a retreat for contemplation. In 1224 St. Francis withdrew to it to pray and fast. During this time he received the Stigmata (the wounds of Christ).
The Chapel of the Stigmata is reached by a long corridor frescoed with episodes from the life of the saint. Along this corridor the friars have walked in procession every day at 3pm since 1431.
Halfway down the corridor is an ancient door that leads to a grotto with a large slab of stone at the end – ‘the bed‘ where the saint rested.
The Precipice, with a short walkway around the rock. Located at 1228 mt above sea level, it offers stunning views of the valley below. Soak in the silence, take time to enjoy it all.
The Quadrant – the paved square with a view, a large wooden cross, a sundial on the wall of the bell tower and a 16th-century well, that was used for pilgrims and guests.
The Basilica of the Sanctuary, which houses La Cappella delle Reliquie, and Santa Maria degli Angeli, a chapel founded by Saint Francis in 1216. Today, there are several small chapels conductive to prayer and meditation to visit, as well as a museum. The sanctuary has many important historical artefacts and a number of beautiful Della Robbia lead-glazed terracotta artworks.
The Sanctuary of La Verna is open daily from 6:30am until sunset. Masses are held several times a day. A visit here can be truly inspirational!
Happy Easter everyone!