Let me tell you why San Romedio Sanctuary is a place of pilgrimage and worship for Trentino.
The San Romedio Sanctuary, nestling among the rocks near Sanzeno, in the Val di Non, is visited by both pilgrims and tourists. It is a place of peace and comfort, ideal for walks in the midst of unspoiled nature. Today, it is maintained by monks from the order of St Francis of Assisi.
The history and legend of San Romedio
The story goes that, at the end of the 10th century, the nobleman Romedio, heir to the prestigious Tirolean house of Thaur, was called by the voice of God to renounce his wealth. He decided to seek true happiness and seek communion with the Creator by retreating in mediation to the summit of a rock. When he died, his followers made his grave in the rock and gave rise to the cult of worship which began in the distant mists of time in the year 1000 and which still continues today.
Starting with the first chapel built in the 11th century, the faith of the humble people in their patron saint led them over the centuries to erect, on top of the other three little churches, two chapels and seven shrines depicting the Passion, a true expression of the sacredness and the wonder of the sanctuary. In this valley, faith in the saint was such that, starting in the 15th century, the walls along the staircase leading to the hermit’s tomb began to be filled with votive offerings, an indication of the pilgrims’ profound faith in the power of the saint.
The architecture of San Romedio Sanctuary
The first of the sanctuary’s buildings stands atop the rocky outcrop. It was created as a church and shrine on the tomb of San Romedio, a hermit, who lived on this cliff top towards the end of the 10th century. Now it is hidden behind the church with its bell tower that stands out from outside. You can reach it by climbing the 130 steps.
For five hundred years the rock on which the ancient sanctuary is built (10th-11th century) remained bare, with an open-air staircase and a few shrines which have now disappeared. At the bottom there were the stables, shelters for pilgrims and the warden’s house. Towards the end of the 15th century and at the start of the 16th, the sanctuary was extended with the construction of the San Giorgio chapel and its two churches: The churches of San Michele and San Romedio. The bell tower dates from the same period, also in the local Gothic style.
In 1700, the sanctuary was completely refurbished and redecorated all the way along the route taken by visitors, pilgrims and tourists to the threshold of the tomb of the hermit saint Romedio. The buildings on the ground floor used as stables, hay barns to accommodate pilgrims were rebuilt from scratch; the churches were brought together with the construction of the counts’ apartment and the gallery (1725), the sacristy and the library above; the second part of the staircase was covered and then embellished with the shrines of the Passion of the Christ; above the San Giorgio chapel are two residential rooms; last to be added was the entrance arch to this place of worship (1770).
There were further additions in the 20th century: the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrow and, outside, the car park with the shrine to San Romedio