‘The Sword in the Stone’/Alexmar983/Wikimedia Commons

The weapon is still trapped in the earth.

One of the most overlooked Disney movies has to be the 1963 film “The Sword in the Stone.” It tells the story of a young orphan named Arthur who pulls a sword out of a stone, suddenly becoming the king of England. Throw in a wizard and some comic relief in the form of an owl, and you’ve got yourself a classic heroic quest.

However, the real story about how the sword got in the stone has nothing to do with magicians, owls or even King Arthur. In fact, the events that inspired the tale didn’t even take place in England, but in Italy.


According to legend, a 12th-century knight named Galgano Guidotti retired as a hermit. During this time, he had two visions: one in which the Archangel Michael came as his protector, and the other in which he met the 12 disciples of Jesus. After the visions, he decided to mark the spot in which they had occurred by placing a sword into the ground, representing a cross. It’s rumored that the ground immediately hardened around the sword, making it impossible for anyone to remove it. One year later, Guidotti died.

Just a few years after his death, Pope Lucius III canonized Guidotti, making him the first saint the Roman Catholic Church declared by formal process. After his canonization, a chapel was built around the land in which the visions occurred. The Montesiepi Chapel in the small Italian town of Chiusdino placed a dome around the sword because thieves have attempted to pull it out of the stone. It’s even rumored that one would-be thief was eaten by wolves for attempting to steal the sacred item, and only his hands were left.

Of course, every tale has is skeptics. Many people (except the most devout) believe the sword is a fake. There’s also speculation that Guidotti’s body is under the sword.

Real or fake, the tale has inspired plenty of books, television shows and films. No word yet on whether Disney plans to make a live-action version of the 1963 film.