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Hermitage of Saints Nicola and Trano

The hermitage of Saints Nicola and Trano is located on a granite outcrop not far from the village of Luogosanto, 2.5 km from the Palace of Baldu: the church exploits the natural rock for its foundations and for its East and West sides (fig. 1), and internally it uses an outcrop of black granite as the altar. Furthermore, its rectangular nave incorporates the cave where the bodies of the Saints were found. Access is via two gates placed respectively along the long sides (fig. 2).

Fig. 1 - Luogosanto, Church of St. Trano (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 2 - Plan of the hermitage of San Trano (from PINNA 2008, p. 84, fig. 63).


The period and the events experienced by the two Saints are uncertain: according to one tradition, Nicola and Trano must have been two anchorites who lived between the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D., taking refuge in the cave of Luogosanto. A second hypothesis suggests that the two hermits were linked to a Byzantine monastic community, which settled in the area. A further interpretation places the Saints in a period between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the example of St. Nicholas of Trani, a hermit monk, spread.

The legendary discovery of the relics took place in 1227 on the site which is the current place of worship: it was reported in a letter written by the Bishop of Ampurias and Civita during 1519. The text reported the story of two Franciscan friars who, during the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1218, were inspired by the Virgin: they were charged with finding the remains of the hermits Nicola and Trano in Sardinia, in the place called Cabosoprano, and to build there three shrines dedicated to the two hermits and to the Virgin. In 1227, the friars carried out their task with the help of Giudice Ubaldo Visconti: a church was erected above the cave (fig. 3), the second one in Lu Rotareddu - which was destroyed in 1912 - while the third one received the relics of the hermits where they were placed under the main altar.

Fig. 3 - The hermitage of St. Trano: interiors (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).

According to some scholars, the Franciscan presence in Luogosanto gave birth to the legend of Saints Nicola and Trano, who are also represented as wearing a brown tunic like a sackcloth.


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