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Hermitage/monastery of St. Spirito della Maiella

Municipality: Roccamorice (PE).

Locality: St. Spirito Great Valley, at about 1,130 m a.s.l.

Building: It is a complex of buildings leaning against a southern rocky wall, following a building typology common to the hermitages on Maiella. The lower part of the complex includes the church, the sacristy and an housing area.
The church, rebuilt at the end of the fourteenth century on commission of the Abbot Pietro Santucci da Manfredonia, presents one nave divided into four bays with lateral altars. The two first bays present a barrel vault, the third has a domed vault, while the last one shows a groined vault with ogives, that dates back to the late-eleventh-century foundation of the building, along with the two angular foliate pensile capitals in the last bay on the right.
Below the church stands the most ancient core of the building, the hermitage. The first entrance leads to the Crucifix room, where, according to the tradition, friar Pietro used to pray, while a second space leads to the place which is supposed to be the bed of the hermit. Below the fourteenth-century housing space another one was created, which was formed by five small rooms, the cells of the first Pietro's companions.
The second area is formed by the remains of the fourteenth-century monastery, with facilities on the ground floor (kitchen, pantry, furnace, etc.) and rooms on the higher floors.
The third and last part is formed by the guest quarters, also called “the Prince's house”, built in the second half of the fifteenth century by will of Marino the IV Caracciolo. Almost in front of that there's the Holy Staircase leading right to the Maddalena's oratory, built at the end of the fourteenth century, even though some elements – the stuccos, the vault's corbels and the table altar – suggest a sixteenth-century restoration.

History and traditions: It was founded by friar Pietro del Morrone in the fifth decade of the thirteenth century. In 1263-1264 the St. Spirito's Hermitage of the Maiella received the apostolic oversight by Urbano the IV and was incorporated into the St. Benedetto's Order.
From 1275 to 1293 it was the “mother house” of the St. Spirito's Order of the Maiella (after called the Celestinians' Order). It was progressively abandoned during the twelfth century and then rebuilt by initiative of the Abbot Pietro Santucci da Manfredonia (1586-1641) when obtained the title of “Abbey”. In the seventeenth century the aristocrat Marino the IV Caracciolo withdrew there and had a edifice built (“the Prince's house”), after turned into a guest quarter. As the Celestinians' Order was suppressed in 1807, the St. Spirito monastery was definitively abandoned. On the 29th August, St. Giovanni Battista's beheading festival, the “Forgiving” rite is celebrated: anyone who confesses and communicates gains the plenary indulgence.

Reachable by path: S (Spirit Path)

Visit information: Information Centre in San Valentino A.C. and Visitor Centre of Caramanico Terme – Tel. +39.085.922343

Image of the outside of the monastery of St. Spirito della Maiella
Image of the stairway of the monastery of St. Spirito della Maiella
Image of the monastery of St. Spirito della Maiella
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