May 14, 2013

The devil's stone

This time our little investigation leads us to the Basilica of Saint Sabina. We are in Piazza Pietro d'Illiria, on the center of Aventine Hill. Remember well this quadrant of Rome.  We will return here in the future to uncover more treasurers because it is a place of beauty, rich with legends and peculiarities.

The Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill
The Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill
Since the Basilica of Saint Sabina is one of the oldest and most spectacular churches in Rome, you will frequently find couples here on Sundays exchanging their wedding vows. (see photo).  But perhaps the well-educated and superstitious will change their minds before taking their "big step" here when they learn that the devil himself is a frequent visitor.

Let's imagine we're standing in the Basilica in the year 1220.  The everyday pious lives of Saint Domenico and his friars, according to several well-documented medioeval legends, were tested by "close encounters" with the devil. But a particular legend, unique from the others, catches our attention because a visual reminder of it has been left for us to see, still today.

The devil's stone
The devil's stone
One night Saint Domenico, in ecstasy, was praying prostrate at the entrance of the church when the devil, unable to tempt him, became rather annoyed  and took a heavy block of black basalt with his incandescent claws from the roof of the church and threw it at Saint Domenico with unearthly violence, all to no avail.  The block dropped down in vain glancing the saint, who had not even a scratch.  He didn't even stop praying.

People say they sometimes see Satan return to the Basilica of Santa Sabina, stop at the entrance and with a look of sadness leave.

Entering this church, look behind you, in the left corner of the Basilica (who would notice that?) there is a little spiral column. Approach the column and you can see above it a roundish black stone with heavy grooves and holes, as if made by an enormous claw....this is the "lapis diaboli" of the legend (see photo).

Observe it carefully...no, it is not a bowling ball...

The Basilica of Santa Sabina is here.

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