Once upon a time: The Devil and the Holy Water of Spormaggiore
Monday 23 December 2019
The Spormaggiore area boasts numerous natural springs, but the most important is certainly the Acquasanta or "Holy Water" spring.
It is the second largest drinkable water spring in Trentino, rising close to Maurina at the foot of Monte Bedolé and producing an average of 20 million cubic metres of water per year. Considering this significant capacity (about 600 litres per second on average), and its high mineral quality, it is used for the main water supply on the Piana Rotaliana.
It is a karst spring, making it intermittent with an alternation of quiet days, followed by sudden violent surges of water accompanied by disconcerting whistles and hisses.
Today geology provides an explanation for this, but the local legends of Spormaggiore describe the spring in a different way. It is said that the Devil himself, after being cast down from Heaven, was enchained in those subterranean caves, where he hurled whistles and screams against God as he struggled to escape.
The country folk who passed nearby were terrified and so it was decided to hold a solemn procession to reconsign the Devil once and for all back down to the depths from which he struggled to emerge. A thronging procession of faithful set off from the church, singing hymns. At the head was the parish priest and the Statue of the Virgin Mary was borne on the shoulders of strong village men who took turns carrying. When they arrived the exorcism rites began, but the Devil fought back with an extremely violent jet of water from the cave, knocking down the faithful and making the statue carriers stagger.
When they had all regained their feet, including the priest, they noticed that a precious holy ring had slipped off the Virgin Mary's finger and fallen directly into the well. This was the divine sign of protection that everyone was hoping for. From that time onwards, despite the sinister sounds, the water emerging from the well would forever be “Holy” thanks to the blessed ring that still today lies at its bottom.
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