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The celestial basilica

The sacred grotto was chosen centuries ago as the destination of pilgrimages, a place of prayer and above all of reconciliation with God.
In fact the apparitions are a sign, an invitation to man to bow down before the Divine Majesty.
Within the span of fifteen centuries of history Christians from the whole world have come to the shrine of the Gargano, "house of God, and gate of heaven", to find again peace and forgiveness in the arms of our loving Father and to give honour to Saint Michael the Archangel, Prince of the Heavenly Army, proclaiming like him with their lives: "Who is like God!"
We find many Popes amongst the pilgrims (Gelasio I, Saint Leone IX, Urbano II, Alessandro III, Gregorio X, Saint Celestino V, Giovanni XXIII when he was Cardinal, Giovanni Paolo II); Sovereigns (Ludovico II, Ottone III and his mother Teofane, Enrico II, Matilde of Canossa, Carlo d'Angio, Alfonso of Aragona, Ferdinando the Catholic, Zygmunt Stary, king of Poland, the Bourbon kings Ferdinand I and Ferdinand II, Vittorio Emanuele III and Umberto of Savoia); 

various heads of government and ministers; some were saints (Anselmo, Bernardo of Chiaravalle, Guglielmo of Vercelli, Francis of Assisi, Brigid of Sweden, Bona of Pisa, Alfonso de Liguori, Gerardo Maiella, the Venerable Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and many others) but above all thousands of pilgrims who have come from all the nations, attracted by the extraordinary fascination of the Celestial Basilica, where they find hope, forgiveness and peace, through the intercession of Saint Michael Archangel.
The Celestial Basilica

Having entered the Romanesque portal that frames the bronze doors we find ourselves inside the celestial Basilica, in the place chosen by Saint Michael. 
From this sacred place emanates an atmosphere of dark fascination which materializes in the play of light and shadows in the tortuous paths and in the scintillating presence of the urn that contains the statue of incomparable expressiveness.
An overpowering desire to abandon oneself to divine pardon insinuates itself in the heart, it is the invitation of the Archangel warrior to overcome our weaknesses and continue the journey, strong from the forgiveness of all our sins.
The church not consecrated by human hand, is in two distinct parts: the one as soon as you enter is constructed in brick-work and called the Angevin Nave, while the other is in the natural state, a cavern made by nature itself in the calcareous rock.

At the entrance we are struck by the majesty of the Angevin nave but looking immediately to the right we find ourselves before a small altar erected in honour of Saint Francis; it is a reminder of his visit to our shrine in the distant 1216. 
As tradition tells us Saint Francis arrived at Monte Sant'Angelo to obtain the angelic pardon, feeling himself to be unworthy to enter the grotto, he stopped in prayer and recollection at the entrance, kissed the ground and carved on a stone the sign of the cross in the form of "T" (tau). 
In biblical language the sign "T" is the symbol of salvation. 
From this account we can understand the importance the Poor Man of Assisi attributed to this grotto for the special dignity of the holy place and for the salvation of souls.
A few steps further on from the altar of Saint Francis a unique spectacle of its kind is unfolded before our eyes: the grotto, with an irregular rocky vault, which has received millions of pilgrims over the centuries and the place where many sinners have found again forgiveness and peace. 
Here, each one of us feels like the prodigal son who goes back to his father's house, led and protected by Saint Michael.
The interior of this grotto, not consecrated  by human hand gives witness to its centuries-old history by its various elements. 
The variety of styles creates a single harmony which gives glory to God almost expressing in the perfection of its art the very name of the Archangel: Who is like God!

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