Abbazia San Galgano

San Galgano, Merlin the Magician and the Sword in the Stone

The legend of Merlin, King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone, which has fascinated children of all generations and has been a source of inspiration for the film of Walt Disney, most likely are inspired by a true story set in Italian or better in Tuscany.

A few kilometers from the city of Siena, in Chiusdino, there is in fact a magical place, which allows us to travel through time taking us back to the legendary story of King Arthur and to the mystery of Holy Grail.

According to the legend King Arthur was born thanks to a spell used by Merlin, and who became king of Britain when he succeeded in confiscating a sword in the stone.

The historicity of King Arthur has long been under discussion. One school of thought has suggested that King Arthur was a Roman-British king who lived between the V and VI century, while others have argued that King Arthur is a sum of all the features of other historical figures. But we don’t know yet the truth. So, is it really possible that the legend was inspired by a sword in the stone, which yet today is preserved in the chapel of Montesiepi in Chiusdino?

The chapel  of Montesiepi is located not far from the Abbey of San Galgano and San Galgano has a very import role in this story.

Galgano Guidotti was born in Chiusdino in 1148 into a noble family. He was a noble knight and when he was young he led a dissolute life, dedicated to the pleasures and entertainment until he converted to Christianity and ascetic life after having had a vision of St. Michael. To symbolize his abandonment of his old life he placed his sword in the stone in the place where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him, in order to use it as a cross on which to pray and not as a weapon to fight with.After Galgano’s death, in 1181, it was built the Hermitage of Montesiepi chapel on the site where he had left his sword, and it was consecrated in 1185.

What kind of similarities are there between the San Galgano’s story and that of King Arthur? Both characters lived in the twelfth century and there is a particular similarity between the name of San Galgano and Galvano (Gawain), a Knight of the Round Table. In addition the sword seems to coincide perfectly with the swords of medieval knights because the metal is still very pure and not mixed with other alloys.

But the coincidences do not end: the Arthurian cycle takes place right in the twelfth century and Knight Gawain meets in a dream Jesus and the 12 apostles and sees even the Holy Grail, which according to some seems to have even hidden in one of the structure’s rooms in which today it is not allowed the access.

But this mix of medieval legend, myth and reality is not a singular case in these places, because always in Tuscany and precisely in Arcidosso in the province of Grosseto, a town full of Templar and esoteric symbols, there is a cave which is said it was the home of Merlin. Merlin loved to travel and there is someone who says Merlin  was in Tuscany, too.

Legend or truth story? It does not matter, but it is important that so magical places have the power to let adults have the desire to go back through the time and read as they were childs story of knights, swords, dragons and fair maidens.

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