by Andrea, 23/01/2015

The magic origins of the small lake of Casigliano (Terni)

Many years ago, where the lake is now there was a village called Casigliano perched on top of a hillock where a poor but generous widow lived with her seven children. One day a holy woman called Degna knocked at her door. Degna lived by prayer and charity going round from village to village and asked if she could come in and warm herself. The widow told her she didn’t even have a piece of wood left. The saint told her to go out and gather some up. The woman went out and discovered an abundance of wood and so they warmed themselves together. Saint Degna asked if she could eat something, the woman answered that she didn’t even have a grain of flour. The saint told her to look in the chest and she found it was full of flour so she made pizza and they ate together. Likewise Saint Degna asked if she could have a drink and when the widow said the wine was finished, she insisted she had to look in the barrel that was miraculously brimming with wine. Saint Degna thanked the woman and before leaving pointed to a needle lodged inside a small hole of the fireplace, she said: “When you see a drop of water coming from the eye of that needle, get out quick with your children and never look back!”. Then she disappeared. Some days later, the woman saw some water coming out of the eye of the needle. Remembering what the holy woman had said she was frightened and ran away with her children, carrying the smallest child in her arms. While she was running, the baby’s cloth slid to the ground. The woman turned round to pick it up and immediately was turned to stone where she stood. All of a sudden a huge earthquake shook the ground and the widow’s house and the whole village collapsed. In their place there was a gigantic hole which gradually filled up with water forming the lake of Casigliano, just as we see it today. The legend continues telling us how the children kept on running away in different directions, but one after the other they looked back and were immediately turned into stone. Small sanctuaries were built dedicated to these children which still exist today: San Pietro Monte on Mount Martano; Sant’Arnaldo near Massa Martana; Sant’Illuminata near the junction for Torre Leccona; Sant’Onofrio at Cesi; Sant’Erasmo on the foothills of Mount Torre Maggiore of Cesi; Santa Marinella on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are the remains of an abandoned church near the lake, most probably erected in honour of Saint Degna by the survivors of the earthquake. Outside the walls, hidden by brambles, is an old stone sarcophagus. The locals call it the “trocco” of Saint Degna and say that the saint was buried there. Several centuries have gone by and nobody worships this saint or remembers her anymore. Only a handful of elderly people remember some bits of the legend recreated here. However grandmothers say that when you have a headache or toothache, if you go to sleep in the “trocco” of Santa Degna, when you wake up you will feel better.


Casigliano – Acquasparta – Terni – Italy


Ricerca delle classi terza e quarta di Casigliano, Anno scolastico 1978-79, insegnante Adriana Succhiarelli Astolfi; supporto Don Pietro Dal Zotto; testimonianze di Leorsini M., , Galletti F., Rinalducci G., Albucciari F.,Mengaroni – Fonti orali, fonti web, C. Ridolfi; “Massa Martana. Dalle origini al terzo millennio-From its origins to the third millennium”, La Rocca, 2009