La Foresta is a place and a community located in the Rieti Valley (central Italy). It is most commonly knows by the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi for The Miracle of the Grapes.
The Miracle of the Grapes happened towards the end of St. Francis’s life. Francis was very ill and after much persuasion, had just had eye surgery in Reiti. This surgery did more harm than good. On his way back to Assisi, Francis and a few friars who he was close to, stopped at La Foresta. La Foresta was a small religious community whose income came solely from their wine production.
Francis’s stay was well received at first. The priest’s wanted to be hospitable to Francis. But, the longer Francis stayed, the more visitors invaded this small community. The main house at La Foresta had but only one door. The grapevines surrounded the pathway to the house. As Francis’s visitors came, they ate a grape or two. As they left they ate a grape or two. Eventually, masses or people were coming to see Francis (I mean, he did start the Friars and all).
After a few weeks, the head priest at La Foresta came to see a still weak Francis. He told Francis that he wanted to be as hospitable as he could be, but there was a problem. As the people were coming to visit Francis, they were eating the grapes. He told Francis that only about ten percent of the grapes left on the vines. He explained how this was the community’s only income. The priest said he didn’t know what to do.
Francis then asked the priest if he had faith in God. Of course, the priest answered yes. Francis asked the priest how many barrels they produce in an average year. The priest told Francis that they usually produce between eight and ten barrels. Francis went on to tell the priest that he was certain that God would provide for them. Also, if La Foresta didn’t come up with at least ten barrels, Francis would give them the money they would have earned selling twenty barrels (which is funny because Francis emphasised his vow of poverty).
Well, as the wine production began, barrels and barrels of wine were made. The priest couldn’t believe it! Eventually there were over twenty barrels. The main priest, frantically, went into Francis’s room and apologized for doubting Francis. Together they praised the Lord.
* Now, we know that this is probably a legend, not truth...
but that is how the story goes.