The cult of this saint, or better angel, protector of the Lombard populations, was imported from the near East and spread through center and southern Italy. The connection between Saint Michael and the caves is easy to explain: the tradition wants the archangel winning on Lucifer, the devil, who was sent away from the heaven to be confined in the inside recess of the earth.
St. Michael Archangel
The Veneration of St. Michael in Caves
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Here are the names of the caves in Abruzzo and Molise dedicated to S.Angelo or Saint Michael:
- In the province of L'Aquila: S. Angelo in Balsorano, S. Michele in Pescocostanzo, S. Angelo in Vetulis near Sulmona, S. Angelo in Bominaco, S. Michelein San Vittorino
- In the province of Teramo S. Angelo Le Ripe
- In the province of Chieti San Michele Arcangelo in Lama dei Peligni
- In the province of Isernia S. Michele Arcangelo in Sant'Angelo in Grotte (the name of the place is also connected to the archangel).
There is a legend that in 1200 the cave was chosen as hideaway by one Angelo after he had committed a murder; he converted himself, he lived there as a hermit, frequently visited by numerous pilgrims.
San Michele in Pescocostanzo
Until the second world war two important feasts were celebrated here on May 8 and on September 29: in the cave the pilgrims picked up a pebble that they preserved till the feast of the following year. During the second world war, for its strategic position, it was used as a shelter and as military base, which caused its decadence and abandonment.
Sant'Angelo in Vetulis
Sant'Angelo in Bominaco
The tradition says that San Tussio, who gave later his name to a nearby village, passed here part of his life as a hermit and that he hosted also San Pellegrino, the saint to whom the marvelous church of Bominaco is dedicated. The folk legend identifies in some hollows in the cave the footprints of Saint Michael and of the devil.