History of San Marco in Lamis


See San Marco in Lamis guide for highlights and historic monuments

Two villages were founded around the monastery of San Marco in Lamis, now known as "San Marco in Lamis” and “San Giovanni Rotondo”. A document dating back to 1007 shows that the monastic structure of San Giovanni in Lamis  was already well underway, so it is certain that it and the surrounding village dated back to ancient times, even to the sixth century AD.

In fact, R. Infante noted that "the most important and certainly the oldest [monastery in Gargano] was the Benedictine Abbey of San Giovanni in Lamis, which perhaps was originally a 'xenodochium' (literally" hospice ", a sort of hostel, a shelter for strangers), founded by the Lombards.

Historically it is certain that in 1007 the Abbey existed independently very efficiently [1].

But why was the Benedictine Abbey dedicated to San Giovanni? Even the attribution of the name is closely linked to the ancient traditions of worship of the Gargano, and in particular the cult of Janus. Panella and Cittadini explain that:

"[...] the transition from Janus in ‘San Giovanni’ is evidenced by the fact that most Christian churches were built where previously pagan temples were located in which Janus was worshiped, and which were then dedicated to St. John (...), as happened with the Convent of San Matteo, once called ‘San Giovanni in Lamis’ (or 'de Lama')".

The change of name from "San Giovanni in Lamis" to "Convent of St. Matthew" took place in the 16th century, when the Franciscans arrived.

During the period of Spanish rule no particularly important events happened, but in the 18th century, San Marco in Lamis recorded a rapid increase in population and gained an important role in Gargano, thanks to its economic activities, including distinguished handicraft production. With the increased population there was also a remarkable building expansion, including the Collegiate Church, the church of “Sant'Antonio Abate”, “San Bernardino”, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Joseph, and St. Clare.

Under the Napoleonic French domination of Italy the city was ruled by G. Murat (1767-1825). A considerable and important period followed after the unification of Italy, when the so-called "banditry" (“Brigantaggio”) developed here, whi were against the Unification of Italy of 1861 for several reasons.

A further population increase was recorded in the early 20th century, with a development of agriculture and crafts including workings in iron, wood and gold. Currently, the economic life of the small town is based on tourism, especially religious tourism.

Etymology and origins of the name San Marco in Lamis

"San Marco in Lamis" is the modern name of an ancient monastery that was born in the wilderness of the Gargano marshes, or the Monastery of  “San Giovanni in Lamis ", so named because it is situated “in Lamis”, translated as “among the swamps".

The origin of the monastery can be traced back to the first years of the 11th century, but it is much older. Mention of the monastery is found in a document dating back to 1007, when the Catapan Alessio Xifea made some donations to the monastery of San Giovanni in Lamis, such as the town of Casamassima:

"[...] a land granted in 1007 by  Protospatharius Alexius Xifea, Catapan of Italy, the Abbey of “San Giovanni ‘de Lama’” (now the Convent of “San Matteo”, near “San Marco in Lamis”) [...]"  [2].

Even more specific is G.B. Bronzini, who points out that "[...] the first documentary evidence of the monastery dates back to March 1007, when the Abbey, which already owned some property and feudal domains, obtained from the Catapan of Italy Alexius Xifea the granting  of new land, with the guarantee of strict respect for borders. There followed in July 1008 the confirmation of this grant by Catapan John Curqua.

See also a travel guide for San Marco in Lamis.

References

1. See R. Infante, “I Cammini dell'Angelo nella Daunia tardoantica e medievale” [“The ways of the Angel in the Late Ancient and Medieval Daunia”, Edipuglia, 2009:   54]

2. See S. Montanaro, “Casamassima nella Storia dei Tempi”[ "Casamassima in the History of Times"], Levante, 1994 , Vol. 1:  12