Destination for religious pilgrims since the 6th century, Monte sant’Angelo is a historical gem set in the beautiful shell of Gargano.
According to the legend, a certain Elvio Emanuele, a wealthy man of Siponto who owned a large herd of cattle, became enraged with a bull that had strayed from his herd. When he found the bull at the mouth of the cave, he shot the bull with a poisoned arrow to obtain at least its flesh but the arrow reversed its trajectory in mid-flight and wounded him. Hearing of this mysterious event, the archbishop of Sipontum (the future San Lorenzo Maiorano) instructed the local citizens to fast for three days. At the end of the third day, Saint Michael appeared to the bishop and ordered him to dedicate the cave to his worship. Later, the Lombards, particularly devoted to the archangel Michael, raised the cave at national shrine. The baptistery of San Giovanni in Tumba is the final resting-place of the Lombard king Rothari (died 652).
Monte Sant’Angelo became a site of pilgrimage and last stop of the long way that led the Crusaders to fight in the Holy Land. Among the pilgrims who visited the Saint Michael Sanctuary (today UNESCO World Heritage site) were many saints like Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, and various popes like Celestine V, Agapitus I, Innocent II, John Paul II in 1974 and 1987.
Near Monte Sant’Angelo is the Pulsano Abbey , built in 591 AD, where the Byzantine rite is practiced. The hermitage of Pulsano has been elected “Place of the Heart” by the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) in 2010.