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The legend of the Virgin Ardenza and the bells of Viggianello

Sunday 17 december 2017

One day a year, the tolling of the village bells come alive with magic, joy, tears and agony ...for those who can hear them

The legend of the Virgin Ardenza and the bells of Viggianello

One of the most famous legends among the villages of the province of Potenza is undoubtedly the legend of the Virgin Ardenza. With a unique beauty, as if born of the sun and clear water, the girl made a vow of chastity to God and, after her father promised her in marriage to a prince of a neighboring land, the virgin fled into the woods.

She was so pure in spirit, that from her footprints lilies of flame or snow were born. It is said that the girl fed on honey, which was given to her by the bees themselves. In the woods she prayed, sang, talked with the nightingales, with the flowers and with the angels that gave her good morning and goodnight.

At the castle and in the village, among the general concern, everyone thought she was dead and wept with despair, but, not convinced, the prince of the neighboring land organized a great hunt to find Ardenza.

Hunted and frightened by the sound of horses and metal weapons, Ardenza hid in a thick myrtle bush. All the horses passed without feeling her presence. Only a dog faithful to the master, of whom, it is said, had been possessed by the devil, stopped in front of the bush and began to bark.

The prince then found the beautiful Ardenza and decided to take her to his castle to marry her. Immediately began preparations for a big wedding but Ardenza did not want to change her mind. The prince then put the girl before of a choice: either marriage, or death. Ardenza chose death.

In response, the prince had the Virgin locked in a bronze dress, made for the occasion by his blacksmiths, in which the beauty began to sing; first with joy, then with weeping, then with anony. Then she died.

A thousand years passed, when, at the birth of the village of Viggianello, bronze was not found to melt church bells. Rummaging everywhere, the population found the bronze vest in the basement of a spirited castle and, with it, they melted the bells of the village.

Once completed and installed, the bells, at their "debut", sang the joy, the tears and the agony of Ardenza. The soul and the voice of the virgin remained impressed in the metal and even today, on the anniversary of the death of the beautiful, as if moved by the breath of angels, the bells of the village sing, cry and agonize with the voice of the virgin. But it seems that only the pure in spirit, like Ardenza, are able to hear that song.

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