Sunday, August 30, 2009

Via Francigena: to Sutri

The goal for the first part of our journey along the Via Francigena was the town of Sutri.
Vincenzo is filling up a water bottle at the fountain
in front of our apartment building before beginning his trek.
I went to the Church of San Gregorio Maggiore near the Coliseum to start my trek. It was Pope Gregory the Great who sent the first missionaries to Canterbury in the year 596, so that was probably the first time people traveled from Rome to Cantebury for spiritual purposes along a route that today is called the Via Francigena.
Shortly after following the Via Cassia out of Rome over Monte Mario, I came to dirt roads that would take me to our first intermediate stop, a shrine to Santa Maria della Sorbo.

There was a castle on this site in the 10th century and in the 15th century a Carmelite monastery was attached to the shrine of Madonna della Sorbo. The shrine is now closed for renovations. These are not the first renovations. The church was restored for the first time by the architect Carlo Fontana (1634-1714). It seems that many years ago this was a popular pilgrimage destination for residents of Rome, especially after Easter.

A small make-shift devotional altar has established itself outside of the gate that prevents access to the shrine during the renovations.

Vincenzo continues on his way to Sutri.

As we approached Sutri we encountered tufa caves, used since the time of the Etruscans. The photo above is the entrance to a pilgrimage chapel that used to be a temple of Mithra.
There are some wonderful frescoes inside the cave church,
including this Madonna del Parto.

The "modern" town of Sutri is on a hill behind me.

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