Church of San Pietro

The Jubilee Portal Saved from the Landslide

On the belvedere overlooking the Adriatic Sea and the Tremiti Islands, there stands a solitary wall with a stone portal from Maiella.

In the 13th-century tympanum, the Madonna holds a baby Jesus who, strangely, wears a royal crown on his head.

These are the only remains of the Church of San Pietro, destroyed by a landslide in 1956 and carefully preserved by the people of Vasto because, to this day, anyone who passes through that door on the third Sunday of January receives the remission of all his sins.

This privilege, known as the “Jubilee of Vasto’s people”, is still valid in the Catholic Church and was granted by Pope Pius VI to commemorate the 500th anniversary of an important historical event: the arrival of Pope Alexander III in Vasto on February 7, 1177. He found refuge in the Church of San Pietro, defended by seven Templar castles surrounding the small village.

After escaping the danger, on March 9, Alexander, still under the protection of the Templars, departed to reach Venice. There, he encountered his archenemy, Frederick Barbarossa, who, after years of conflict, bowed down to him, acknowledging the superiority of papal power over imperial power.

From this success, which in many ways appeared as a miracle to the pope, gratitude towards St. Peter and the village of Vasto arose, gratitude that was made perpetual by the establishment of the Jubilee of the People of Vasto. To this day, this gratitude manages to keep standing the wall of an ancient church that once stood on a cliff that collapsed towards the sea many years ago.

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