Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi, Italy
The Eremo delle Carceri is a small hermitage in a steep forest gorge at the Monte Subasio, in Umbria, in middle Italy, four kilometers above Assisi, the steps and bows of which arch over a quatrefoil-shaped hole in the smooth pink stone: the so-called “Devil Hole”, a grotto. The word Carceri is from the Latin ‘carceres’ and means “isolated places” (as well as “prisons”).
In the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi returned here during his life to pray and contemplate as did other hermits before him. When he first came in 1205, the only building here was a tiny 12th-century oratory. Soon, other men followed him to the mountain, finding their own isolated caves nearby in which to pray. The oratory became known as Santa Maria delle Carceri after the small “prisons” occupied by friars in the area.
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