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The Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity in Vallepietra

After describing the Simbruini, the mountains of Rome we go into the park to discover the Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity in Vallepietra. One of the most important and heartfelt places of worship in Lazio.

In an unspoiled landscape furrowed by the Simbrivio River and small streams and tiny waterfalls.

A mysterious painting appeared in a small cave.

There are several hypotheses about the origins of the shrine. Hypotheses which despite much research are always lost in the popular legends passed down orally by pilgrims.

The most widespread legend of popular origin tells “of a farmer who was plowing a field on the top of the hill above. This one saw oxen with a plow running and throwing themselves into the 300 m high ravine below. He rushed desperately to the base of the rocky precipice and saw the oxen kneeling before a mysterious painting of the Trinity. It appeared inside a small cave as the heavy plow was caught in the shrubs of a rocky ledge.”

Another credited hypothesis attributes the foundation of the shrine to St. Dominic of Sora (1031), as reported in a biography of the saint.

A traditional walking pilgrimage

Beyond the legend, the most credited hypothesis seems to be that of Eastern monks refugees in hermitage at the base of Mount Autore, which dominates the site. Hypothesis also credited by the Greek-style blessing attitude of the “Three Persons” in the painting.

Inside the cave of the Shrine of the Holy Trinity in Vallepietra there are also some Gospel scenes. The faithful enter in religious silence, pause a few minutes gathered in prayer and exit through the door opposite the entrance. They walk backwards as a sign of respect for the “Three Persons.”

Characteristic of the place of worship, located at the foot of Mount Autore (at 1337 meters above sea level), is the tradition of pilgrimage on foot. During the magical nights near Pentecost. From the towns of Ciociaria, but also from the Sublacensis and Abruzzi sides, dozens of processions climb mountains and valleys. They proceed with the banner of their country on their heads, finely decorated and carried by tireless “standard bearers,” unafraid of rain, scorching sun or fatigue.

It impresses the multitude of faithful who face long hours of walking and nights spent outdoors in order not to miss an appointment waited for all year.

The Weeping of the Spinsters

In the early 1700s a sacred laude, “the Weeping of the Spinsters,” began to be performed on the forecourt of the Holy Trinity Sanctuary on the morning of the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The “Zitelle,” all dressed in white and coming from the nearby town of Vallepietra, sing the laude inviting pilgrims to conversion. Today the weeping has undergone considerable transformations from the tradition but it certainly retains all the intense and participatory religious emotion.

On the forecourt in front of the shrine an open-air altar was built in the 1960s, protected by a large canopy in the shape of a Greek cross visible from satellite photos.

At the foot of the steps leading out of the shrine is the Chapel of St. Anne, which the friars had carved out of the living rock for the veneration of St. Anne that had been spreading since the 19th century. A small room opened in 1886 where a maximum of ten people can stay.

Between ex-votos and souvenirs

Over time, given the very high number of pilgrims, a museum was opened to collect the many ex-votos left as a sign of “grace received.”

Along with an interesting collection of banners donated by “companies” of faithful on pilgrimages. In addition, a thriving trade in souvenirs, small objects of worship and gastronomic specialties has developed around the Shrine of the Holy Trinity. That, however, does not detract from its highly spiritual appeal.

With the Blog of Rome and Latium Region, Around Rome guides you to discover the territories for the pleasure of satisfying curiosity and putting culture at the service of people and businesses.

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Edited by il NETWORK | text and photo  Ezio Bocci
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