Sacra di San Michele

The Sacra di San Michele, sometimes known as Saint Michael’s Abbey, is a religious complex on Mount Pirchiriano, situated on the south side of the Val di Susa overlooking the villages of Avigliana and Chiusa di San Michele, northern Italy. The abbey, which for much of its history came under Benedictine rule, is now entrusted to the Rosminians. A special regional law acknowledges it as the "Symbolic monument of the Piedmont region".

History

According to some historians, in Roman times a military stronghold existed on the current location of the abbey, commanding the main road leading to Gaul from Italy. Later, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Lombards built a fortress here against the Frankish invasions.

Little is known of the early years of the abbey. The oldest extant account is that of a monk, William, who lived here in the late 11th century and wrote a Chronicon Coenobii Sancti Michaelis de Clusa. He sets the foundation of the abbey in 966, but, in another passage, the same monk maintains that the construction began under the pontificate of Sylvester II (999-1003).

What is certain is that what is now the crypt was built in the late 10th century, as attested by the Byzantine influence in the niches, columns and arches. According to tradition, this building was constructed by the hermit Saint Giovanni Vincenzo at the behest of the archangel Michael to whom he was particularly devoted; and the building materials which the hermit had collected were transported miraculously to the top of the mountain. In addition, it is noted that the cult of St. Michael, the archangel who warred with Lucifer, typically bases it churches on pinnacles or hard to reach places, for example, Mont Saint Michel in France.

In the following years a small edifice was added, which could house a small community of monks and some pilgrims.

Later the abbey developed under the Benedictine rule, with the construction of a separate building with guest-rooms for pilgrims following the popular Via Francigena and of a church-monastery (1015-1035), probably on the remains of the ancient Roman castrum.

Abbot Ermengardo (1099-1131) had a new large, 26 m-high basement built from the foot of the hill to its peak, on which a new church (the one still existing today) was added, including the surrounding structures.

The monastery, fell into decline and was finally suppressed in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.

Art and architecture

The church, whose construction lasted for many years, is characterized by the unusual position of the façade, which is at a lower level than the floor of the church’s interior.

The 41 m-high façade gives access to the Scalone del Morti ("Stairway of the Dead"), flanked by arches, niches and tombs in which, until recent times, skeletons of dead monks where visible (hence the name). At the top of the steps is the marble Porta dello Zodiaco, a masterwork of 12th century sculpture. The church itself is accessed by a Romanesque portal in grey and green stone, built in the early 11th century. The church has a nave and two aisles, and features elements from both the Gothic and Romanesque styles of architecture. On the left wall is a large fresco portraying the Annunciation (1505), while in the Old Choir is a triptych by Defendente Ferrari.

The complex includes the ruins of the 12th-15th centuries monastery, which had five floors. It ends with the Torre della Bell'Alda ("Tower of the Beautiful Alda") The so-called "Monks' Sepulchre" is probably the remains of a chapel reproducing, in its octagonal plan, the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Notes

External links

Listed in the following categories:
Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
yage
3 January 2014
A must-see: the view is amazing. You can even try taking a 10km bicycle ride up the mountain :-)
Marco Rota
20 August 2013
Un posto incantevole con una vista mozzafiato a 360° sulla pianura sottostante. Da visitare assolutamente se si è in zona, ne vale la pena.
Yes! Torino
30 September 2013
Alla scoperta del #fuoriTorino: una suggestiva Sacra di San Michele! #YesTorinoTips #igerstorino #igerspiemonte Foto di ElTubaro
Raffa
1 December 2012
Un posto incantevole che merita una visita. Il pomeriggio del primo sabato del mese c'è quella guidata: molto interessante!
Riccardo Marzo
3 October 2015
Da visitare in giornate limpide, per potere ammirare il panorama lungo il percorso e sottostante.
Svetlana Artemyeva
13 April 2019
Восхитительное место, потрясающая история.
Load more comments
foursquare.com
8.5/10
47,996 people have been here
Map
0.6km from Strada Provinciale 188, Province of Turin, Italy Get directions
Tue-Sat 9:30 AM–Noon
Sun 9:30 AM–Noon

Sacra di San Michele on Foursquare

Sacra di San Michele on Facebook

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
Hotel Chalet del Lago

starting $75

Massi Hotel

starting $72

Hotel San Giorgio

starting $70

Vald Hotel

starting $64

Hotel Parlapà

starting $72

Agriturismo Cascina Scola

starting $52

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Sant'Antonio di Ranverso Abbey

The Abbey of Sant'Antonio di Ranverso is a religious complex in

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi

The Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi (it.: The hunting residence (or,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Fenestrelle Fort

The Fenestrelle Fort is the biggest fort in Europe, having a surface

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Museo Egizio

The Museo Egizio is a museum in Turin, Italy, specialising in Egyptian

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Turin Cathedral

Turin Cathedral (Italian Duomo di Torino), dedicated to Saint John the

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Royal Palace of Turin

The Royal Palace of Turin (italiano. Palazzo Reale di Torino) is a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Palazzo Madama, Turin

Palazzo Madama e Casaforte degli Acaja is a palace in Turin, northern

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Palazzo Carignano

The Palazzo Carignano (Carignan Palace) is a historical building in

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Vydubychi Monastery

Vydubychi Monastery (ua. Видубицький монастир, Vydubyts'kyi monas

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Sümela Monastery

The Sümela Monastery (Greek: Μονή Σουμελά, Turkish: Sümela Mana

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Jvari (monastery)

Jvari or Jvari Monastery (ჯვარი, ჯვრის მონასტერი) is a Geo

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Stavropoleos Monastery

Stavropoleos Monastery (Romanian: Mănăstirea Stavropoleos), also k

See all similar places