One day, a nobleman of the area, lost the best bull of his herd. After days of searching he found it kneeling in an inaccessible cave. He couldn’t get near it, so he shopt an arrow, but the arrow turned around and came bavk and hit him.
He was so surprised at thios unusual occurrence that he went straight to the bishop, who ordered him to pray and fast for 3 days.. The Archangel appeared to the Bishop 3 days later and said:
“I am Michael the Archangel and am always in the presence of god. I chose the cave which is sacred to me. There will bw no more shedding of bull’s blood ( referring to a pagan practice in the area). Where the rocks open widely, the sins of man may be pardoned. What is asked here in prayer will be granted. Therefore, go up to the mouintain cave and dedicate it to the Christian cult!!”
The Bishop delayed in obeying the angel’s order because he was undecided.
Two years later, in 492, the Christian city of Siponto at the foot of the mountain, was besieged by pagan hordes. The people were desperate. The Bishop obtained a 3 day truce from the pagans and ordered prayer and penance.
The Archangel appeared to him and promised his help if the townspeople dared to attack the enemy. A severe storm, with sand and hail, rained on the pagan army, which was terrorized and escaped. The town was saved. The Bishop announced a thanksgiving procession and went with the people to the top of the mountain, but he did not venture into the grotto.
On the third anniversary, the Bishop was still not sure if he should follow the angel’s order.He went to the Pope who ordered him to fast for 3 days then go there with other bishops.
St Michael appeared for the third time and ordered him to enter the grotto. The angel said:
“It is not necessary that you dedicate this church that I have consecrated with my presence. Enter and pray with my assistance and celebrate the Sacrifice. I will show you how I have consecrated this place.”
The bishop entered the cave and found an altar covered with a red cloth and a crystal cross, and at the entrance was a child’s footprint, which confirmed the presence of the Archangel St Michael.
The bishop had a chapel built at the entrance to the grotto and dedicated it on September 29th. It is the only place that is not consecrated by the hand of man.
Through the centuries, it has been called the ‘celestial Basilica’.
The last apparition was in 1656 in answer to prayer because of the terrible plague that had hit the area. The local Bishop and his people invoked the help of St Michael and the plague stopped.