The Path of the Saints of Molise

The Path of the Saints of Molise

A journey along the livestock trails

The itinerary of the Saints in Molise can still be explored almost entirely on foot, by following the tratturi or sheep tracks (grassy trails of differing sizes, sometimes as much as a hundred metres wide), that were used as far back as Roman times for horizontal transhumance or the migration of flocks between Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia and vertical transhumance within the territory of Molise itself. Here the trails mainly followed two routes: an inland route that included the towns of Campobasso, Bojano, Venafro and Isernia; a coastal route that took in the towns of Termoli, Guglionesi and Larino.
The first part of the itinerary covers the same route as the Benedictine Way, which arrives in the territory of Molise by crossing the Annunziata Lunga Pass and, once it has passed the town of Venafro (the first stop on the itinerary of the Saints of Molise), bends down through the valley of the Volturno River in the direction of Rocchetta al Volturno and the Benedictine Abbey of St. Vincent. The Route of the Saints of Molise continues towards Isernia and, after a detour to visit Agnone follows the valley of the Trigno River as it crosses Trivento and reaches the Adriatic Coast; from here it moves southwards until it arrives at Termoli
From Isernia the visitor can choose to carry on towards Bojano, as far as Sepino or, turning eastwards, to go in the direction of Campobasso. The valley of the Biferno River leads from there towards the coast, with the opportunity to make a visit to Larino along the way. The walk finally reaches the town of Termoli, the natural end point for the two routes.

Detail of the Church of St. Nicander
Detail of the Church of St. Nicander

Route Highlights

Reliving the story of the dawn of Christianity

In most cases, the saints of the itinerary through Molise belong to the period of the dawn of Christianity, when they were victims of persecution by the Roman Emperors. Saints Nazarius and Celsus were actually martyred towards the end of the first century under Nero and Vespasian (even if legend has it that they were martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution). The provenance of St. Bassus is subject to debate; he was martyred in either Bitinia or Nice around the middle of the third century. St. Nicander, Sts. Cosmas and Damian, St. Emidius, St. Christina and St. George were all martyred under the reign of Emperor Diocletian between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth centuries; St. Victor died a martyr at the beginning of the fourth century under Emperor Maximian. St. Bartholemew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, while St. Pardus, who was probably the Bishop of Larino, died in Lucera (in Foggiano), but his remains were stolen by the people of Larino in the tenth century.


Stages of the trail of the Saints in Molise

Le tappe della Via dei Santi del Molise

Places to visit on the Trail of Saints
in Molise

La Via dei Santi del Molise
Chiesa di San Nicandro

Church of St. Nicander

Venafro (XIII century)

The church was built in the 13th century at the place where a sarcophagus was found containing the remains of St. Nicander, that is now housed in the crypt; the waters gushing from a nearby spring are known as the Manna of St. Nicander and are considered by believers to have miraculous qualities.

Eremo dei Santi Cosma e Damiano

Hermitage of St. Cosmas and St. Damian

Isernia (prior to the XII century)

Rising up on the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to Priapus, the hermitage was in existence before 1130. Subsequently it was dedicated to the patron saints of medicine, Cosmas and Damian, whose fame as healers of the sick was spread through the population as a cult.

Chiesa di Sant'Emidio

Church of St. Emidius

Agnone (XIII century)

A Benedictine oratory until the thirteenth century, the church was dedicated to St. Emidius by the master wool craftsmen who had arrived in Agnone from Ascoli Piceno, so that he might protect them from earthquakes; their symbol, the mystic Lamb, is in the thirteenth century portal.

Cattedrale dei Santi Nazario, Celso e Vittore

Cathedral of Saints Nazarius, Celsus and Victor

Trivento (XI century)

Rising up on the ruins of an ancient temple of Diana and originally consecrated to the cult of St. Castus (who is probably buried in the crypt), in 1076 the cathedral was dedicated to St. Nazarius and St. Celsus, as commemorated by a stone laid in the church.

Cattedrale di San Basso

Cathedral of St. Bassus

Termoli (XII - XIII century)

Built between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, on the site of the ancient ecclesia Sancte Mari, the crypt houses a sarcophagus containing the remains of St. Bassus, which, according to legend, was discovered by a group of fishermen. The cathedral is a national monument.

Cattedrale di San Pardo

Cathedral of St. Pardus

Larino (XIII century)

Constructed in the thirteenth century, the cathedral houses the remains of St. Pardus (who died and was buried in Lucera). He was adopted by the people of Larino as their patron saint in 842; the event is celebrated with an ancient festival in May. The cathedral is a national monument.

Chiesa di San Giorgio

Church of St. George

Campobasso (X - XI centuries)

Built on the remains of a temple to Hercules, between the tenth and eleventh centuries, the church was dedicated to St. George, who, during the battles between Campobasso and its neighbouring cities, was said to have appeared at the front of an army, putting the enemy to flight.

Chiesa di San Bartolomeo

Church of St. Bartholomew

Bojano (XI century)

A document from 1073 called Regesti Gallucci records the construction of the church in the eleventh century, the work of a Norman family called the de Moulins (de Molisio). It was destroyed by earthquakes in 1117, 1456 and 1805, but was always rebuilt.

Chiesa di Santa Cristina

Church of Saint Christina

Sepino (XI century)

The church was dedicated to St. Christina in 1099 and housed her remains, which were brought to Sepino by two French pilgrims and subsequently transferred to Palermo by Guglielmo I d'Altavilla, who left some bones from her right arm there.

Progetto co-finanziato, ai sensi della legge 135/2001 art. 5 – comma 5, dalla Presidenza del consiglio dei Ministri Dipartimento per lo Sviluppo e la Competitività del Turismo.