The journey of Saint Francis and Friar Thomas

in the Count of Marsi’s land

The monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri

The Congregation of the Franciscan nuns derives from the community founded in Borgo San Pietro by Filippa Mareri in 1228. After the meeting with Francis between 1221 and 1222, Filippa became attracted to the ideals of the life of Chiara from Assisi. Three years later and exactly on the 28th of September 1228, her brother gave her the church of San Pietro and the annex house, that became the principal seat of the community. With an apostolic letter of Pope Gregorio IX dated the 21st of July 1231, the monastery was placed under the protection of the Vatican. The religious chose the rule, approved by Pope Urbano IV in the 18th of September 1263, for the nuns of the Clarisse order. In a papal bull of the 27th of July 1231 Filippa Mareri was proclaimed Saint, and the Pope gave forty days of indulgence to the devotees whom celebrated the holiday and visited the convent.
  • First stage - Borgo San Pietro – Peschito (first stop): length 1,400 kilometres; travel time 30 minutes – difficulty easy by foot or horseback;
  • Second stage - Peschito – Ara Pacili (second stop): length 0,600 kilometres; travel time 20 minutes – difficulty medium by foot or horseback;
  • Third stage - Ara Pacili – Mareri (third stop): length 1,200 kilometres; travel time 20 minutes; difficulty easy by foot or horseback; visit to the village, the church of Sant’Eustachio, the Palazzo Maoli and the Rocca;
  • Fourth stage - Mareri – Pian de Ricci (fourth stop): length 2,500 kilometres, travel time 50 minutes; difficulty easy by foot or horseback;
  • Fifth stage - Pian de Ricci Cavern of Santa Filippa (fifth stop): length 0,600 kilometres in length; travel time 30 minutes; difficulty medium by foot;
  • Return journey: The cavern of Santa Filippa – Borgo San Pietro: travel time 110 minutes; difficulty easy by foot or horseback.
In 1228, won over by her brothers, Filippa Mareri obtained the custody of the church San Pietro de Molito together with Villa di Casardita, and here her Franciscan monastery was born probably occupying a previous Benedictine place. The agreement was ratified with a legal act dated the 18th of September 1228. In the ancient villa, Filippa made some restoration works and began a life of severity and strictness. With an increase of nuns, she felt the need to widen the walls of the monastery; in fact, she used both her’s and the other nuns endowment to restore the church and to construct other buildings useful for their hermitage. This gave birth to the monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri, with its cloister, rooms, shops, and its acquisition of sacred books and furniture funded by the same. The church was consecrated by the bishop of Rieti Rainaldo in 1231. In the same year Pope Gregorio IX took the monastery under his protection, while on the 16th of February 1236 Filippa died and her remains were conserved in the homonymous chapel. The fame of her sanctity quickly spread among the inhabitants and with the passage of time, her cult status has never weakened.

Around 1920 the valley of Salto entered into the hydro-energy projects to produce electric energy and was included in the old archives of the remediation works undertaken in Rieti in the second half of the nineteenth century. The works started between 1936 and 1937 and ended in 1941. In a short time a large area of territories was submerged, including the old monastery of Borgo San Pietro. Through the correspondence of the dispute, for the rebuilding of the monastery, between the nuns and the apostolic visitor, appointed to control relations between the executive societies, it is possible to recreate one of the most dramatic periods in the history of the valley, when some entire villages were evacuated and submerged. The remains of Santa Filippa Mareri were transferred to the new monastery on the 4th of November 1940.

Places of interest

esterno del santuario

The monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri

After the works and the creation of the lake del Saltovenne, the new monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri was rebuilt not too far from the old one. Placed in Borgo San Pietro, in the small community of Petrella Salto and surrounded by nature from the Apennines of Lazio, the building is annexed to the parish church, and is the heart of the religious institute and of Franciscan spirituality.

It is prone to receving single or groups of pilgrims searching for a peaceful and relaxing place to regenerate their bodies, souls and minds. A welcoming and familiar atmosphere that leads to the discovery of places dear to Saint Francis of Assisi and to Santa Filippa Mareri. A point of reference for the monastery is the Santa Filippa Mareri chapel that conserves the remains of the first Franciscan Saint. Its historic archive must not to be missed, that preserves a historic memoir almost two centuries old. The monastery’s museum shows a part of monastic life and various masterpieces of religious and of fine Italian art, such as the works of Giorgio de Chirico.

cappella di santa filippa mareri seconda

The chapel of Santa Filippa Mareri

The chapel of Santa Filippa Mareri can be found in the heart of the monastery in Borgo San Pietro. The chapel, once kept inside the ancient monastery was submerged in 1940 together with the entire village to create the lake del Salto. The chapel was taken apart and rebuilt, stone by stone, in the parish church for the exhibition of the Superintendency of Fine Arts.

In this way a treasure of devotion and art was saved together with frescoes in a giottesco and Renaissance style. At the center of the chapel, on the altar, you will find the golden urn that holds the remains of Santa Filippa, next to the silver reliquary with her heart perfectly intact, and a lock of Saint Francis’s hair.

resti dell'antico monastero

The museum

The museum of the monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri conserves documents and findings from an ancient religious complex founded in 1228 and later submerged in 1940. The nuns of the monastery wanted many documents to be preserved in the monastery, and made available to followers, academics and the curious minded.

This museum was built and inaugurated in 1977 and made larger in 2000. The journey of the museum takes its visitors through the architecture of the ancient monastery of San Pietro de Molito and through photographic images and decorative fragments of capitals, symbols, masks and bells belonging to the twelfth and seventeenth centuries and the precious wooden main door built by the master carpenter Giacomo di Bernardino in 1511.
The ancient main door invites a symbolic voyage back in time and memories, discovering a life of "prayer" and "work" within the ancient monastery. The notably sacred objects in the church of San Pietro de Molito belong to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fifteenth-century statue of the Saint and a cross both date back to 1550. A part of the museum is dedicated to a domestic and working life through weaving, spinning and pharmacy. The valuable books on liturgy, asceticism, medicine and natural science are to be admired in the monastery’s library; aside the ancient parchments, papal bulls and manuscripts belonging to the twelfth century, preserved in the archive. The works of G. De Chirico, one the most important surrealistic Italian painters, are extremely precious and was close to the mother superior of the convent and consequently gave them some paintings among which is the famous "La Crocifissione".

scorcio dell'altare della grotta di santa filippa mareri

The cave of Santa Filippa

A mountain route (1200 meters) that takes you to the rocky shrine of the “Grotta di Santa Filippa” a place of her solitude in Borgo San Pietro. The itinerary follows a natural path away from mass tourism. You can proceed towards these wonderful places surrounded by trees and the waters of lake del Salto by foot, by horseback or mountain bike. This combination of religion and nature reaffirms the Franciscan philosophy.

This walk also ideally relives the human and spiritual path of Santa Filippa whose cave was dug from the rocks and is composed of a main natural entrance and a lateral entrance. The area in front of the main entrance is the presbytery where you can find a little marble altar. In addition to this path, and near to the lake del Salto, it is possible to dive and rediscover the beauty still present in the submerged monastery.


Discover where the Monastery of Santa Filippa Mareri is located on a virtual path to visit the Tomb of Santa Filippa and the Sacred Cave located in Borgo San Pietro.

The territory

Discover the Monastrery of Santa Filippa Mareri in Borgo San Pietro within the community of Petrella Salto and visit the tomb of Santa Filippa, first Franciscan Saint

dove mangiare
Where to eat
dove dormire
Where to sleep

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