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The Italian Sword in the Stone

The story of King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone may have been inspired by this Italian saint.

If you’ve ever heard the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table you’ll know Arthur became king after he pulled a sword from a stone. Most people accept that this story is a myth; that maybe Arthur truly existed, but he did not pull a sword from a stone. 

However, Arthur’s story is not the only sword and stone story out there. There is another sword, embedded in rock in a small Italian chapel, that may have been the inspiration for Arthur’s heroic tale.

The story starts with Galgano Guidotti, a wealthy knight, who decided he would spend the rest of his life as a hermit. He retired from public life and settled down near where he was born in Chiusdino. This is when the visions started. 

Guidotti saw the Archangel Michael lead him to the nearby hill of Monte Siepi. Upon the hill, Guidotti would find God and the twelve apostles encouraging him to give up all his earthly goods. Supposedly he responded that it would be easier to penetrate a stone with a sword. In the vision, he tried to show his holy companions exactly how difficult it would be but the sword slide into the stone like butter. 

There is no evidence to say how long Guidotti’s visions continued, but one day he found himself on the very hilltop he had previously seen. Inspired by his vision, Guidotti plunged his sword into the stone, where it remains to this day. 

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In 1181, one year after these events, Guidotti died from unknown causes. Four years later Pope Lucius III declared him a saint and had a church built on the site of his miracle. The Church is called Montesiepi Chapel is still open to visitors who wish to see the sword in the stone. 

Apparently, next to the sword, there is a pair of mummified hands belonging to a thief who attempted to take the sword and was  then attacked by wolves. This was meant to act as a deterrent for future thievery, but other attempts have still been made.

There are also those that claimed the sword was a fake; the whole story was a scam. However, scientists recently tested the sword handle and confirmed it was indeed from the 12th-century, around the time Guidotti’s story took place. 

We will never know if Gudotti was actually the one who placed the sword in the stone, but maybe one day someone truly worthy will be able to remove the sword from its resting place. 

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