|San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo has been considered as a town "filled with
history". Its origin can be dated back to the eleventh century and its first
inhabitants were the Pirgians, who coming from the mountains encamped along the important
route leading from the Sanctuary of Saint Michael in Monte Sant'Angelo.
It was so-named after San Giovanni (Saint John) who the Pirgians (before Janus's
followers), once Christianised, had chosen as their Patron, and after the shape of the
little temple which they had been devoted to him - "Rotondo" (Round).
When Saint Francis of Assisi, coming down from Monte Sant'Angelo in 1216, passed by San
Giovanni Rotondo. The town, at that time, wasn't enclosed by walls and was a flourishing
town with an income of one thousand ducats a year, two thousand inhabitants, being the
most populated town in Gargano.
In 1901 there were 10,142 inhabitants, 11,538 in 1911 and 19,658 in 1971.
Situated over 567 meters above the sea level, at the foot of the highest mountain of
Gargano, Mount Calvo is rich in caves and cliffs.
According to the most recent archaeological findings in the "Santa Croce" area,
the first inhabited nucleus of San Giovanni Rotondo could be dated about 5000 years ago,
on the top of San Croce, where a hamlet may have existed but was buried by several floods
later on. At Roman times the population moved towards east, near the present 'Rotonda'
In July, 28 ,1916 an ill Padre Pio came to Our
Mary of Grace's Convent for the first time, warmly welcomed by a few friars and the pupils
of the seminary. The days in which Padre Pio stayed in San Giovanni Rotondo brought his
body a great relief. He happily breathed the fresh air of the mountains, surrounding the
monastery. He kept resting in the hours when the community went to bed, so he slowly
regained his strengths. However every evening Satan would tormented him.
Jesus, in a vision, told Padre Pio that he should stay in San Giovanni and the provincial
father gave him his approval on August 4, 1916. From September 4th Padre Pio would have
stayed there forever, except some short periods when he was away due to spiritual and
military reasons. When Padre Pio arrived, there was nobody around the Convent, only some
flocks of goats or sheep, climbing over the mountain and a little path that led to the