Sigeric the Serious: Via Francigena, Suteria, Circa 990 AD

Submansio IV – Suteria

Before it was inhabited by the ancient Romans, central Italy, and in particular the regions of Tuscany and Lazio, were populated by the Etruscans. Coming from Rome on the  Via Cassia, Sigeric the Serious must have seen the ancient Etruscan necropolis visible from the street. The burial grounds were perhaps not as impressive and decorated as the ones from Cerveteri and Tarquinia, nevertheless they evoked the presence of Etruscans in Sutri.

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Inside the church of Madonna Del Parto, a former etruscan tomb and place of worship for the god Mithras, carved into tuff-stone in Sutri

 Etruscans believed that death was the journey to the afterlife and they had a fear that the neglected dead may become malevolent; therefore, tombs were constructed with particular care and solidity. Thus, the dead would take pleasure in their last dwelling, enjoy their afterlife, and chose not to haunt the living. The weakening of Etruscan power resulted in the re-conversion of the Sutri necropolis  into a Mithraeum for initiation to the cult of Mithras, perhaps as soon as 100 B.C. Today, the tomb has become a church consecrated to the Madonna Del Parto.

Sutri was involved in the struggles between the Lombards and the Byzantines. in 728, Liutprand, King of the Lombards, offered the city and surrounding lands to Pope Gregory II. This donation is considered the beginning of the temporal power of the Church, the first step in the construction of the Patrimony of St. Peter.

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Coin of Liutprand (712-744), King of the Lombards, gold

In the ninth century, the legend says that Berta, sister of Charlemagne, disinherited and exiled for having had relations with the Knight Milon, stopped in the town of Sutri, on her way to Rome, to give birth to her son Roland in a cave. The boy would eventually be appointed champion of France and would write the Song of Roland, an epic poem praising Charlemagne for his knightly deeds.

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