One of the interesting things about living in an area is seeing the changes that come about year after year. Still, you hardly expect staunchly conservative places like churches to hold surprises, yet one of the big surprises occurred last year when we went in to take a peek at the small abbey church of San Caprasio in Aulla, Italy, only to notice that behind the altar there was an open archaeological excavation.
When your eyes adjust to the dim light, you see a simple, stone tomb. The remains inside are absent, but were authenticated after the 2003 excavation to be those of Saint Caprasio, whose relics were bought here from Lerins before the year 1000. 50 or so years later a second and more secure tomb was built and hidden under a layer of lime and stones to avoid theft. You can see it all in the picture below.
Bishop Eugenio Binini calls Saint Caprasio, pilgrim and hermit, “the patron of the Francigena route that crossed the territory of our Diocese”
There is also the skeleton of a medieval person buried in the wall of the earlier apse. Nearby the tomb was an unexploded bomb from WWII that had to be carted off and detonated. It was a US bomb. The apse of the church was pretty much the only part of Aulla left standing.
A museum has been built next to the church to explain the excavations and what was going on at the time of early pilgrimage in the Lunigiana. You can reserve a guided visit by calling 0187-420148. I’m not sure how much English is spoken by museum guides, but you can get a good idea of what’s going on by just wandering around.