As explained more fully in another section of this Augnet web site, the Williamites had been drawn into the Augustinian Grand Union unwillingly, and by vociferous protests were within sixteen weeks able to convince the Pope that, because they were long of a different (i.e., a Benedictine) tradition, they should be allowed to withdraw from the new Order of St Augustine.
With regards to their houses in Italy, the pope consented to their request on 22nd August 1256, meaning that the Williamites in Italy were Augustinians for only sixteen weeks – from 9th April to 22nd August 1256. After that, the hermitage at Malavalle revered to the re-commenced Order of St William (and to the Rule of St Benedict) once more.
Malavalle is located near the town of Castiglione della Pescaia, in the woods northwest of the capital city in the area between the center of Castiglione della Pescaia and the nearby village of Tirli, 9.60 kilometres to its northwest. It is in the civil province of Grosseto, and the Diocese of Grosetto.
The area had become the site of hermitage for William (sometimes called Guglielmo d' Aquisgrana), a hermit who gained a reputation for holiness long before his death in the year 1157. A tomb was built for him there, and it became a place of pilgrimage such that in 1174 Pope Alexander III granted William the cult of saint.
The hermits who gathered there then began calling themselves the Order of St William, and in 1221 their Order received papal approval, meaning that ir received official approval long before the Order of St Augustine was approved in 1256.
The hermitage was built up between 1230 and 1249, with assistance from Pope Gregory IX (in office 1227 – 1241), and became one of the main spiritual centres of the area.
In the thirteenth century, during the warfare on Siena by the armies of Florence, l' eremo it was destroyed, and its members scattered to other Williamite houses elsewhere in Italy and in other countries, yet the Order eventually returned to Malevalle.
During the fifteenth century the Williamites abandoned Malevalle permanently. In the sixteenth century it was assigned by Pope Pius IV to local people, and in 1564 to Bartolomeo Concini (b. 1507, d. 1578), the principal secretary of Cosimo de Medici of Florence, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
In 1597 the Venerable Giovanni Nicolucci O.S.A. (b. 1552, d. 1621), the Prior of the Augustinian monastery of Monte Cassiano, withdrew to the property at Malevalle to live an eremtical life, and some restoration of the site began.
(Continued on the next page.)