Monte Redentore (Mountain of the Redeemer)
The summit of Mt. Redentore is at 1252 m/4100 feet in the Aurunci mountains, a mountain range of southern Lazio (circled in red in the image on the right). They run from the main Apennine chain, the "spine" of Italy, over to the Tyrrhenian Sea to form the promontory of the coastal town of Gaeta about 75 km north of Naples. They are bounded to the north-west by the Ausoni Mountains. The nomenclature may be different, but there is no evident boundary between the two groups. The names are from two ancient and related Italic tribes. The highest peak in the Aurunci group is Mt. Petrella at 1,533 m/5000 feet. The Aurunci mountains include a regional park, the Parco Naturale dei Monti Aurunci, created in 1997. Mt. Redentore is in that park.
Technically, Mt. Redentore is not really a
separate mountain but is merely the southern side of the
slightly higher peak (1367 m), Mt. Altino. Redentore is
noteworthy, however, as the goal of pilgrims and hikers
as it is the site of the 3.5 meter cast-iron statue of
the Redeemer (image, below, right), erected on July 31,
1901. (It was one of 20 such “Redeemer statues” erected
throughout Italy upon the initiative of Pope Leo XIII as
part of the Roman Catholic jubilee to greet the new
century. The main path up to the statue from the town of
Mirandola is well-marked and, indeed, now called the Via
della Statua (Way/Path of the Statue) as it was
the trail followed to move the monument up to the top.
Actually, it is more accurate to say that the trail was
built because of the statue. The statue plus
four-sided base with inset altars weighed 2100 kg (more
than 4500 pounds) and was suspended beneath a high cart
and dragged up the mountain by four oxen. The cart had
to stop often for workers to develop the trail; the move
took 40 days. The statue
of the Redeemer was shattered by lightning in 1907; it was
rebuilt and then reopened in 1919. The original
statue-mold was the work of artisans of the Roman firm of
"Rosa and Zanazio." The actual pouring of the cast-iron
was done in Paris at the Tuse Mense foundery.
Along the trail you find the small church of
St. Michael the Archangel (image, below, left) set in
the rock face. It is the site of a religious procession
(image, left) each year in June from Maranola to the
church in order to place a small stone statue of St.
Michael that is normally kept in the church of the
Annunciation in the town. The statue spends the summer
(to protect the shepherds, according to tradition) and
then is returned to town in a second procession in
September for the feast day of St. Michael. The statue,
itself, is of some interest. Though there are claims
that it goes back almost to Roman times, that cannot be
substantiated. It is, according to those who study these
things, likely (but not certainly) to be the work of
Pompeo Ferrucci (1566-1637), born near Florence, but
much of whose sculpture is found in Rome, where he lived
and worked much of his life and where he died.
The higher elevations of both Mt. Redentore and Mt. Altino are particularly scenic; they provide a panorama of the Tyrrhenian coast all the way to Vesuvius and the Sorrentine coast, including the various islands in the Pontine group as well as those in the bay of Naples. (In the winter, the mountains can get considerable snowfall, as well). The best access to the Mt. Redentore trail is from Maranolo, just inland from the coastal town of Formia. Historically, as a point of interest (not that you need to worry!), the hills have also been the refuge of some very unsaintly bandits, including the infamous Fra Diavolo, born in nearby Itri.
As usual, I thank Selene Salvi of Napoli Underground (NUg) for her research.
photos: trail (top), landscape (second from top, left) & church (bottom, left) from Napoli Underground (NUg);
Redeemer statue, bottom right, Gabriele Altimari.
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