Umbria is a land that has always expressed a deep spirituality. There are hundreds of saints venerated in the towns and cities, and then the hermits, a multitude of people who have nourished their spirit of harmony of nature and the evocative power of these places. Some are virtually unknown, their name is linked only to a remote church in the countryside or a sanctuary that seems almost impossible to achieve. As Santa Cecilia from Montelovesco (Gubbio) – declared saint soon after his death by the rural population who had known the mystical virtues and experienced the therapeutic power – who lived in the thirteenth century between Gubbio and Umbertide. Relied on for centuries to get the fertility of women and the health of babies to all childhood. The church is in a remote gorge in the mountains. Cecilia lived in a cave and the water of the river that flows in that place is considered therapeutic…
Even if you can fit in the large group of Umbrian mystical proved in the thirteenth century – as Clare of Assisi, Clare of Montefalco, Giovanna from Orvieto, Angela of Foligno – Cecilia is extraordinary for its narrow hermitage and its powers, evidenced also by some pastoral visits from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century: “The people near and far have a great devotion to this church, and crowds flock come to dissolve votes, to implore or thank for the grace of healing of their children.”
Cecilia is marked by a series of elements that are typical of many figures – especially women – characterized by high mysticism, clairvoyance and ability to obtain physical and spiritual healing for their intercession with God. The main element common to other figures is the spring water: in Montelovesco you go down, as a “small sacrifice”, along the rugged path that leads to the “cups” – cups carved in stone and that the tradition ascribes to the intervention of the saint in order to collect water – and to a tub-shaped creek, under a waterfall, where the saint was bathing. You use this water, devotedly, as therapy: drink, get wet aching limbs, it leads to the sicks. Water is one of the stream Mussino born nearby and, finally, flows into the Tiber. Footprints of the knees of the saint and his goat can be identified in the rocky basin where she was going to wash or on the ceiling of the cave, excavated in rock, in which Cecilia had spent her life as a hermit, leaving traces of the sleeping body always remained intact.
Another important element that characterizes the hermit’s life is the cave, in fact, because it refers the rite of incubation, which is one of the devotional practices and therapeutic related to the cult of Santa Cecilia (resulting from the ritual in use in ancient Greece, linked to the cult of Aesculapius since the fourth century BC.). The children were placed asleep for a time in a hole in the center of the Church. Later, in the records of pastoral visits, no more talk of that hole but it insists on the therapeutic value of the holy in relation to his intercession on behalf of children. In the same picture showing St. Cecilia, she holds a nest, which symbolically represents the values related to fertility, birth, care of small creatures.
On the death of Cecilia was built a shrine, restored several times, today became a little church where the Mass is celebrate for children on Whit Monday.
A hermit who lived in the thirteenth century between Gubbio and Umbertide, relied on for centuries to get the fertility of women and the health of babies to all childhood. The church is in a remote gorge in the mountains. She lived in a cave and the water of the river that flows in that place is considered therapeutic…
Oh glorious Saint Cecilia
that in the solitude of our mountains
on harsh penance
sanctify this land and you made the holy place of perfection
is always to remain alive among us the memory of your extraordinary virtue
Always bright the light of your pure examples
increasingly powerful and sweet your blessing.