Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Aug 2014


        Monte Redentore (Mountain of the Redeemer)

The summit of Mt. Redentore
is at 1252 m/4100 feet in the Aurunci mountains, a mountain range of southern Lazio (circled in red in the image on the right). They run from the main Apennine chain, the "spine" of Italy, over to the Tyrrhenian Sea to form the promontory of the coastal town of Gaeta about 75 km north of Naples. They are bounded to the north-west by the Ausoni Mountains. The nomenclature may be different, but there is no evident boundary between the two groups. The names are from two ancient and related Italic tribes. The highest peak in the Aurunci group is Mt. Petrella at 1,533 m/5000 feet. The Aurunci mountains include a regional park, the Parco Naturale dei Monti Aurunci, created in 1997. Mt. Redentore is in that park.

Technically, Mt. Redentore is not really a separate mountain but is merely the southern side of the slightly higher peak (1367 m), Mt. Altino. Redentore is noteworthy, however, as the goal of pilgrims and hikers as it is the site of the 3.5 meter cast-iron statue of the Redeemer (image, below, right), erected on July 31, 1901. (It was one of 20 such “Redeemer statues” erected throughout Italy upon the initiative of Pope Leo XIII as part of the Roman Catholic jubilee to greet the new century. The main path up to the statue from the town of Mirandola is well-marked and, indeed, now called the Via della Statua (Way/Path of the Statue) as it was the trail followed to move the monument up to the top. Actually, it is more accurate to say that the trail was built because of the statue. The statue plus four-sided base with inset altars weighed 2100 kg (more than 4500 pounds) and was suspended beneath a high cart and dragged up the mountain by four oxen. The cart had to stop often for workers to develop the trail; the move took 40 days. The statue of the Redeemer was shattered by lightning in 1907; it was rebuilt and then reopened in 1919. The original statue-mold was the work of artisans of the Roman firm of "Rosa and Zanazio." The actual pouring of the cast-iron was done in Paris at the Tuse Mense foundery.

Along the trail you find the small church of St. Michael the Archangel (image, below, left) set in the rock face. It is the site of a religious procession (image, left) each year in June from Maranola to the church in order to place a small stone statue of St. Michael that is normally kept in the church of the Annunciation in the town. The statue spends the summer (to protect the shepherds, according to tradition) and then is returned to town in a second procession in September for the feast day of St. Michael. The statue, itself, is of some interest. Though there are claims that it goes back almost to Roman times, that cannot be substantiated. It is, according to those who study these things, likely (but not certainly) to be the work of Pompeo Ferrucci (1566-1637), born near Florence, but much of whose sculpture is found in Rome, where he lived and worked much of his life and where he died.

The higher elevations of both Mt. Redentore and Mt. Altino are particularly scenic; they provide a panorama of the Tyrrhenian coast all the way to Vesuvius and the Sorrentine coast, including the various islands in the Pontine group as well as those in the bay of Naples. (In the winter, the mountains can get considerable snowfall, as well). The best access to the Mt. Redentore trail is from Maranolo, just inland from the coastal town of Formia. Historically, as a point of interest (not that you need to worry!), the hills have also been the refuge of some very unsaintly bandits, including the infamous Fra Diavolo, born in nearby Itri.

As usual, I thank Selene Salvi of Napoli Underground (NUg) for her research.

photos: trail (top), landscape (second from top, left) & church (bottom, left) from Napoli Underground (NUg);
Redeemer statue, bottom right, Gabriele Altimari.

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