Saint Galgano and the Sword in the Stone
The conversion of a dissolute knight
According to legend, Galgano Guidotti, born in Chiusdino in 1148 to a noble family, led a dissolute life dedicated to pleasure and entertainment until the Archangel Michael appeared to him and he converted to Christianity. To symbolize his abandonment of his life as a knight, Galgano plunged his sword into a rock, leaving the cross-like hilt visible. He dedicated his life to preaching around Siena until he retreated to a hut on Monte Siepi. Immediately after Galgano’s death, in 1181, the Hermitage of Montesiepi was built on the site where he had left his sword, and it was consecrated in 1185.
The building is a circular-plan church with a small apse, a cupola and a chapel with frescoes by Lorenzetti. In the centre of the room Galgano’s sword is preserved, the evidence of this saint’s only known miracle. Between 1220 and 1268 the Abbey of San Galgano – a fascinating Romanesque-Gothic structure – was built below, a sign of the popularity of the saint’s cult.