Chapter II through IV

While away from his mother, Galgano stayed in Siena to pick a home better suited to entertainment and pleasure, with a secondary sight set upon a military career. This was very dangerous, not only as it is today, but more so in that time as it was seldom separated from violence and robbery. As it happened, however, he was favored with a striking vision, the description of which is as follows. In the middle of the night, St. Michael the Archangel appeared. He saw also his mother, to whom St. Michael was speaking, admonishing and encouraging her to consent to the idea of her son enlisting in the heavenly militia. What honor such a gift should bring to her motherly heart. Galgano saw her bow deeply and nod her consent, then saw himself follow the footsteps of the Angel. The young man became restless, and with a sudden resolve abandoned all his amusements, the very things that kept him in Siena. He returned to his father’s house, and in a humble and affectionate manner, he told his mother the vision. Surprised by the sudden change in manners of her son, she gave thanks to the Lord, and amiably congratulated him for such a change. She encouraged him to persevere in the good sentiments he had conceived, and to follow God in the measure His infinite mercy had made known to him. The words of his mother added stimulus to the deep impression that the blessed vision had left in him, and from that moment he purposed to change his life completely. With fervent tears, Galgano asked God to forgive the foul deeds he had committed, and he suddenly understood all the ingratitude of which he had been guilty towards the Creator and the Redeemer of mankind. All the earthly delights, entertainment, and pomps being left behind, he retired to his father’s house, and for some years, it is believed for 4 or 5, led an obscure and penitent life.

The Lord looked with favor on the change and perseverance of Galgano, in whom such grace had been worked, and He deigned to send another vision in order that He might call him to a very great penance, one to which Galgano was destined by Divine mercy. Once more, while Galgano slept, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to him. With mysterious images, the Archangel made known that he ought to embark on the path to Mount Siepi, about four miles distant from Chiusdino. At that time, it was a solitary place covered in thick forest. There he must offer up every worldly comfort as a sacrifice for his past sins and carry out the most bitter penances. Galgano was anxious to tell his mother the new vision. Sadly, she who had so desired the conversion of her son, as well as his return to sober and good conduct, also longed so very much to have him close so that he might bring relief to her advanced age and that he might stabilize the succession of the family. Thus, she was greatly disturbed at the thought of losing him, and tried to persuade him that he could still serve God in society, that he should not abandon her once more when she was in necessity, and while he undertook good behavior, she needed much consolation. Grace had already taken possession of his heart, and began to lift it above all human respect, so that all things should yield to the Divine will. It is best for a man that he ought to come to what has been prescribed by God, to Whom we owe everything, and without Whom we would be nothing, for His commands are sacrosanct, and a man can not transgress them without impiety. Galgano pleaded with prayers and tears, but it so displeased Dionisia to be deprived of her son again, that he did not attempt other means of trying it. Not satisfied, she turned to her relatives and took counsel with them. Together they determined that they should propose a girl to Galgano as a spouse… such a one that he could not refuse.

There was at Civitella (a big castle about 20 miles distant from Chiusdino on that side of the Maremma), a man by the name of Antonio Brizzi. Fortune had made him very wealthy though he was of common birth. He had a daughter by the name of Polissena, who was very beautiful and charming. Galgano’s mother set her heart upon the idea of marrying Polissena to her son, as did his other relatives, and they sought out Brizzi to pursue their purpose. Having made an agreement as to the marriage contract, they proposed it to Galgano. Though he resisted every argument and persuasion for a long time, eventually he was won over by their persistence, and he forgot, for a moment, the injunction received from the Archangel. Thus, he promised to go to see the lady Polissena. With this purpose in mind, Galgano quickly prepared to make the journey from Chiusdino heading towards Civitella. He had not yet gone four miles, when suddenly, in the plain called Morella (near Luriano), his horse stopped and refused to move one step further, though spurred and struck with much energy. Galgano dismounted, and fell down upon his knees. He immediately recognized his failure, and implored forgiveness and help from the Lord so fervently that he saw again the Archangel St. Michael, no longer merely in a vision, but in reality. Right away he gave the command that Galgano should follow him to Mount Siepi. The Archangel then left, saying that there on Mount Siepi Galgano must do harsh penance, being as of that very moment enrolled in the army of heaven. Overwhelmed and contrite Galgano fell to the ground, and, having drawn his sword from his side he exclaimed, “How you deign, O merciful Lord to show so much favor to a miserable sinner! Ah, but I could more easily plunge my sword into this stone, than obtain forgiveness for my many sins.” Having said this, he thrust his sword into the rock, until the whole of it was immersed up to the hilt. This may be observed even in our times, in the present Chapel of S. Galgano above Mount Siepi, where there is a boulder with the sword enveloped in stone and guarded well by an iron grate. In view of this singular miracle, every fear as well as every importune care was banished from Galgano’s mind, and he began to back away reverently, fervently venerating the cruciform shape that the sword’s hilt now presented to him, as it was now swallowed by rock up to the hilt. Galgano wished to observe nothing else, that he might have continually before his eyes the infinite mercy of the Lord.

Excerpt taken from The True Story of the Sword and the Stone

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