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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

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.