As we all know, at the base of every legend there is (almost) always something true, and that human imagination has no limits: it is enough to tell, for example, dark stories of ghosts, witches, curses, infernal rites, to give veracity to events happened (perhaps) a few centuries before.
Thus, the presence of a strange musical score frescoed in an Italian church, according to research done by me and another collaborator, would seem something unique: here music assumes demonic valences, in which the notes, depending on the sequence in which they are played, would have apotropaic effect or, on the contrary, would act as a curse against the poor organist and, of course, the unfortunate listeners.
Here, in the area of Trino Vercellese, in Northern Italy, in the early decades of the twelfth century (exactly in 1123) it seems that some Cistercian monks who came from France, from the monastery of La Fertè to Chalon˗sur-Saône, took advantage of the generosity of the Marquis Ranieri I of Monferrato, who gave them marsh lands to be remediate, and erected an important abbey complex.
Over the centuries various changes took place in the whole area and especially in the religious complex.
After the fall of Napoleon a controversy arises between the last owner of the vast territories, Camillo Borghese, and the Savoy family. So, as often happens, the entire property is divided into lots and sold to high-ranking people, including the father of Camillo Benso Count of Cavour.
The lot comprising the abbey complex was bought by the marquis Giovanni Gozzani of San Giorgio, who after a few years gave it to the Duke Raffaele de Ferrari of Galliera, Genoese, from the Savoia family who was then named Prince. This gives life to the current Principality of Lucedio, today belonging to the Cavalli d’Olivola family.
Historically, the reputation of the place grew over the centuries thanks to the monks who knew how to make the most of the renewed fertility of the land, thus combining agriculture with prayer. But on 10 September 1784, with an official document still preserved, Pope Pius VI imposed the immediate closure and secularization of the abbey for an impressive number of accusations including heresy, satanism and pedophilia. In old documents of the time we speak of “habitual parties” between the monks and nuns of the nearby convent of Trino, of black masses and desecrations of graves in the nearby cemetery of Darola and of an unspecified “black cult” practiced at the interior of the church of Santa Maria, one of the two churches still existing inside the Principality.
Around the zone, in particular the fortified Abbey of Santa Maria di Lucedio, there are lot of interesting legends.
The church of Santa Maria was built south of the Principality, in a diametrically opposite position compared to the Christian canons: the plant therefore recalls an inverted cross, with an unusual octagonal bell tower.
It is said that in 1684 an evil presence was evoked inside the nearby cemetery of Darola, (now abandoned), but the enchanters lost control of the demon who took possession of the minds of the abbots of Lucedio. They, devoted to the devil, began a period of abuse, black masses, abusing the novices, torturing and killing innocent people, abusing the spiritual and temporal power of which they were invested.
A period that lasted 100 years, when the Pope, in 1784, sent an exorcist from Rome, who, after facing and overcoming the evil one, enclosed him in the crypts under the church. Guarding the demon were then placed some mummified abbots sitting on thrones in a circular position and the crypt was walled to prevent access.
At the time also Pope Pius VI, condemned the monks, after having seen “The columns that cry”: In the hall where the monks gathered to carry out black masses and abuse on the novices, in fact, the columns seem to shed tears. In reality, the phenomenon is due to the fact that Lucedio is built in an area rich in “fontanili”, which are sources of fresh water of natural origin typical of alluvial plain land, like most of the Italian plains, so the columns absorb the water from here, which is then expelled from the porosity of the stone.
But the story does not end here!
As a further guarantee of the incarceration of the demon, a music was composed, known as the “Devil’s sheet music”, in italian “lo spartito del diavolo”. A piece that, according to folk tales, would have had magical and esoteric properties: according to the legend this music would be able to keep the demon imprisoned in the crypt.
The score has a strange peculiarity: it is a two-faced sheet music, readable in both the verses. The legend also tells us that, if on one hand the music has the power to protect from the evil one, playing the score in the opposite direction, from right to left and from bottom to top, the melody produced would be able to free the demon from his imprisonment.
Through a system of substitution of notes with the letters, similar to an encipherment, in the fresco clearly appear three words: GOD, FAITH, ABBEY. Furthermore, the three initial agreements are typically closing agreements, ie used at the end, and not at the beginning, of a piece. A little ‘as if it had been painted in reverse.
Of course, for many years, researchers and curious people searched for the two-faced sheet music on the old graves of the abbey and among the pages of old books, but it was only by chance that, in 1999, it was found. The score is located in the deconsecrated church of the Madonna delle Vigne, frescoed on the wall of the nave, between decorations and frescoes. The discovery, has obviously attracted the attention of numerous Satanists, so if the legend were true, surely the demon has already been released for some time, as it is obvious that some worshiper of Satan, has already performed the melody inside the macabre church!
We can not know whether it is reality or fiction but along the same road, surrounded by dense vegetation a few hundred meters from the Abbey is the cemetery of Darola, “the black site where it all began”, the place where the monks consumed their meetings and, from that moment on, subject to periodic desecration until the definitive closure that took place a few decades ago.
Signs of vandalism, black masses and paranormal sensations are tangible almost everywhere within this patch of land forgotten by God and the sensation of being observed and sometimes touched by something immaterial is really strong!
One last curiosity? You see that church down the street, in the picture below? According to the story of a local inhabitant, about seventy years ago, every second Sunday of May, the feast of the “Madonna delle Vigne” was celebrated. It was tradition to close the parish priest in the pigsty, to prevent it from raining. The parish priest was “released” only at 5, when he was to celebrate mass!
Text in Collaboration, Anya and Danijel.