Archangel Michael Grotto Church in Monte Sant'Angelo© by James Martin, Europe Travel
San Michele Pilgrimage Shrine consists of the original Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael in a grotto and the crypt and devotional museums. It's easy to find the shrine as the octagonal bell tower, built in the 13th century, rises above the town of Monte Sant' Angelo on Puglia's Gargano Promontory.
From the small square by the bell tower, pilgrims and tourists pass through the Gothic arches of San Michele to an information booth and ticket office for the crypt. Descending the long stone staircase constructed in the 13th century (or elevator for the disabled), visitors arrive in the nave with frescoes and murals and a small book shop. On the Bronze doors, made in 1076 in Constantinople, are 24 panels depicting Bible scenes. The doors lead to the cave of Saint Michael.
The Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael, or San Michele, in the grotto dates from the 5th - 6th centuries and is the site where devotion to the Archangel Michael began. The original grotto of San Michele is said to have been consecrated by the archangel and is the only church not consecrated by human hands. Guests can visit the grotto free of charge by sending an email to email@example.com or calling +39 0884 568127 for a reservation. Mass is still celebrated here and visitors are not allowed in during mass. Visitors should dress appropriately for entering a church and be respectful of those using it as a place of worship.
Also in the Sanctuary Crypt are the interesting devotional and lapidary museums that can be visited by reservation as above.
The Shrine is on the ancient Via Sacra Langobardorum, connecting important Longobard sites, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also a major stop on the Pilgrimage route for devotees of the Archangel Michael that connects Mont St Michel in France, La Sacra di San Michele Monastery in Piemonte and San Michele Sanctuary in Monte Sant' Angelo. In the middle ages pilgrims often continued on to Jerusalem by boat.