Grotto of St. Philip Benizi

Via San Filippo 19 (Castiglione d'Orcia)

The cave of St. Philip Benizi is a small chapel located in the locality of Bagni San Filippo Castiglione d'Orcia (SI), set in a large block of travertine Vault-shaped closed at the ends by two walls and divided into two by a partition.
It is named after St. Philip Benizi that in the 13th century – according to tradition--took refuge in these places. It is said that Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini to overcome the difficulties of the conclave of Viterbo (1268-1271), which met after the death of Pope Clement IV, proposed to the Cardinals the election to the papacy of Philip, prior General of the servants of Mary. The Saint, known the news, refused this honor and responsibility, left Viterbo and hid on Monte Amiata for about three months. In the second half of the fifteenth century hagiographic texts of the servants of Mary (for instance between Paul Attavanti, Paulina praedicabilis, Siena, 1494) narrate that Philip retired to a cave of this place, and like Moses, smote with his stick a rock from whence sprang miraculously a source of healing waters that then became the Bagni di San Filippo. It was the sign that the Saint left his gratitude to the locals who had welcomed and supported during his tenure.
The devotion of the inhabitants had built a chapel at the place first and then a Hermitage that was of the servants of Mary. It looks like about in 1401 in a cave spent much of his life Blessed John Benicasa of the same order before moving to Monticchiello in Siena. The convent experienced many twists and turns. On 2 September 1540 father General Dionisio Laurerio resumed possession for the order by an act of the notary Anselmo Sebastiani of Campiglia and rebuilt the community.
In 1580 by is in the list of monasteries of the Tuscan province, but again abandoned in 1652 seeds was suppressed like other small convents by Decree of Pope Innocent X. In 1703 the order of servants of Mary tried unsuccessfully to reopen it.
La grotta-oratory is still well preserved and above the altar is a wooden black bust of St. Philip, as well as devotional objects.
The festivities in honour of St Philip Benizi are held on 22 and 23 August.



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