This voice carried him to the top of the hill where he envisioned a round temple with Jesus and Mary surrounded by the Apostles. Once there, the voice told him to give up his easy living. Galgano replied that it was easier said than done, as easy as splitting a rock with a sword. With grace, Galgano’s sword sunk into the bedrock. He got the message and decided to take on a life of poverty. He made friends with wild animals and occasionally a peasant wandered to the hill looking for Galgano to give him a blessing.
Galgano died in 1181 when he was just 33 years old. He was declared a saint four years after his death. The Bishop of Volterra gave Monte Siepi to the Cistercian monks to build a shrine to Galgano. They broke ground in 1185, creating a round chapel that is known as Cappella di Monte Siepi (Monte Siepi Chapel). It is located on the hill above the abbey, with the sword in the stone as the centerpiece. The Chapel shows off a marvelous view of the Abbey from above. Galgano’s body was lost for some reason after his funeral took place. His head, surprisingly was found. His head also was said to have grown golden curls for many years following his death. It was placed in the side chapel. Saint Galgano’s head is currently preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena.
In 1218, The order of the Cistercian monks built the Abbazia di San Galgano (Abbey of San Galgano). With the influence of Gothic-Cistercian architecture, the building is impressive and shows what a strong following Saint Galgano had. In the 14th century, the abbey grew to incredible power granted by various emperors. The wealth and power reached the 16th century that in the end set off a disagreement between the Republic of Siena and the Pope. In 1506, Pope Julius II forbid priests to perform liturgical functions at the abbey.
After that the Abbey of San Galgano slowly started to disappear. The Abbey became a place to collect building materials. There was looting going on and people started selling pieces of the abbey. The lead plates on the roof where one of the first things to be sold. The roof finally collapsed in 1768, which now enhances the spirituality that was once spoke of by Saint Galgano. With clear view of the Tuscan sky above it can bring one to a state of complete contentment.