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Galgano

(c. 1140—1181)


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(c.1140–81),

hermit at Monte Siepi (Tuscany). Born at Chiusdino, near Siena, of a noble family, he gave himself up to hunting and other pleasures as a young man. But after experiencing visions of the archangel Michael he became a hermit and built a cell on a steep mountain near a monastic community founded by William of Malavalla. Disciples joined him, but he found that ruling them was troublesome. In 1181 he visited Alexander III to discuss this problem, but he did not live long enough to solve it.

He died at Monte Siepi on 30 November. A round church was built over his tomb, where pilgrims came in large numbers and miracles were claimed. A papal commission of enquiry was set up in 1185; it is probable that Galgano was canonized in 1190. In that year Cistercian monks took over Monte Siepi at the request of Hugh, bishop of Volterra, but most of Galgano's monks left, scattered over Tuscany, and became Augustinian hermits. By 1220 a large Cistercian monastery was built below Galgano's hermitage: they then claimed him as a Cistercian saint. His cult was lively in Siena and Volterra, where numerous representations survive. The ruins of his hermitage can still be seen, while his cloak is kept in the church of Santuccio at Siena. Feast: 3 December.

R. Arbesmann, ‘The three earliest Vitae of S. Galganus’ in Didascaliae: Studies in Honour of A.M. Albareda (1961), 3–37; H.S.S.C., vi. 271; Bibl. SS., vi. 1–6.

Subjects: Christianity.


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