The Chapel of Montesiepi, nestled in the picturesque region of Tuscany in Italy, houses a unique medieval sword that is embedded in a stone. Unlike the famous legend of King Arthur and his sword in the stone, this sword has a real-life connection to a saint.
The legend of King Arthur is a popular British myth that tells the story of a powerful king who defeated the Saxons and established an empire that included several regions. Knights, who were awarded the highest Order of Cavalry, gathered around a round table with no headboard, signifying equality.
The sword in the stone
According to the legend, Excalibur was a magical sword that was embedded in a rock and could only be extracted by the one who was destined to rule over Great Britain. Although many tried, only young Arthur was able to effortlessly remove it from the stone, thus gaining the right to be crowned and become the king.
The Chapel of Montesiepi
An analogous yet relatively obscure tale can be discovered in a church situated in the countryside of Chiusdino, a diminutive town located in the province of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. Some believe that this church may have been the inspiration for a famous British legend. The Montesiepi Chapel was constructed in 1183 under the directive of the Bishop of Volterra and is easily distinguished by its circular brick pattern.
The walls of the dome feature symbols that harken back to the traditions of Etruscans, Celts, and the Knights Templar. This church was erected in honor of San Galgano and is adorned with numerous enigmatic details and symbols that pertain to the solar calendar. The chapel’s primary attraction is the “sword in the stone,” which is securely embedded in the rock and shielded by a fiberglass dome.
The story of Galgano Guidotti, a knight whose life became intimately tied to the history of the church, is one of transformation and faith. Born into a noble family, Galgano lived a life of luxury and arrogance until he began to feel a deep sense of purposelessness. This realization culminated in a radical conversion in 1180 when he was 32 years old.
According to legend, Galgano had a vision of the Archangel Michael, who showed him the path to salvation. The next day, Galgano renounced his former life and became a hermit, much to the despair of his mother and the disbelief of his friends and family.
As he traveled to inform his fiancée of his decision, Galgano’s horse suddenly stopped and he fell to the ground. He interpreted this as a warning from heaven, and soon after had another vision commanding him to give up all material possessions.
One version of the legend states that Galgano questioned the Angel Michael, arguing that giving up material things would be more difficult while sharing a stone with a sword. To prove his point, he slashed a nearby stone with his sword, which surprisingly opened like butter.
Galgano lived in a cave for eleven months in deep devotion and humility before passing away in 1185. Four years later, he was declared a saint by the Pope, and his sword was preserved as a holy relic. Today, the story of Galgano Guidotti continues to inspire those seeking a deeper connection with their faith.
For many years, historians had believed that the sword was a fake. However, a survey conducted in 2001 finally confirmed that the sword was indeed authentic, possessing the same metal composition and style as those crafted in the 12th century BC.
The use of ground penetration radar revealed a 2-meter by 1-meter hollow beneath the stone where the sword was discovered, leading experts to believe that it could be the resting place of the knight who once wielded the weapon. Additionally, researchers uncovered two mummified hands in the Montesiepi chapel that have been dated back to the 12th century.
According to legend, the sword was so sacred that anyone who attempted to remove it would have their hands severed.