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Monte Cassino (today usually spelled Montecassino) is a rocky hill about southeast of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, in the
Latin Valley Valle Latina (''Latin Valley'') is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance languag ...
, Italy, west of
Cassino Cassino () is a ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides many of the basic civil functions: Civil ...
and at an elevation of . Site of the Roman town of
Casinum Casinum was an ancient town of Italy, of Osci, Oscan origin. Varro states that the name in Oscan language meant ''forum vetus'' ("old forum"), and also that the town itself was Samnium, Samnite before the Roman conquest. Casinum was a Samnite c ...
, it is best known for its
abbey An abbey is a type of monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (hermits). A mo ...

abbey
, the first house of the
Benedictine Order The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Ben ...
, having been established by
Benedict of Nursia Benedict of Nursia ( la, Benedictus Nursiae; it, Benedetto da Norcia; la, label=Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also ...

Benedict of Nursia
himself around 529. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the
Rule of Saint Benedict The ''Rule of Saint Benedict'' ( la, Regula Sancti Benedicti) is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia ( AD 480–550) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. The spirit of Saint Benedict's Rule is summed ...
was composed. The first
monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place res ...

monastery
on Monte Cassino was sacked by the invading
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on ...
around 570 and abandoned. Of the first monastery almost nothing is known. The second monastery was established by
Petronax of Brescia Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino ( it, Petronace di Monte Cassino) (May 1, 670 – May 6, 747), called "The Second Founder of Monte Cassino", was an Italians, Italian monk and abbot who rebuilt and repopulated the monastery of Monte Cassino, which ...
around 718, at the suggestion of Pope
Gregory II
Gregory II
and with the support of the Lombard Duke
Romuald II of Benevento Romuald ( la, Romualdus; 951 – traditionally 19 June, c. 1025/27 AD) was the founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century "Renaissance of hermit, eremitical asceticism".John Howe, "The Awesome Hermit: The Symb ...
. It was directly subject to the pope and many monasteries in Italy were under its authority. In 883 the monastery was sacked by
Saracens upright 1.5, Late 15th century German woodcut depicting Saracens Saracens () were primarily Arab Muslims, but also Turkish people, Turks, Persian people, Persians or other Muslims as referred to by Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ag ...
and abandoned again. The community of monks resided first at
Teano Teano (Teanese: ) is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and public works. ...
and then from 914 at
Capua Capua (, ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public services ...

Capua
before the monastery was rebuilt in 949. During the period of exile, the
Cluniac Reforms The Cluniac Reforms (also called the Benedictine Reform) were a series of changes within medieval monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical ...
were introduced into the community. The 11th and 12th centuries were the abbey's golden age. It acquired a large secular territory around Monte Cassino, the so-called ''
Terra Sancti Benedicti The ''Terra Sancti Benedicti'' ("Land of Saint Benedict") was the secular territory, or seignory, of the powerful Abbey of Montecassino, the chief monastery of the Mezzogiorno and one of the first Western monasteries: founded by Benedict of Nursia ...
'' ("Land of Saint Benedict"), which it heavily fortified with
castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...

castle
s. It maintained good relations with the
Eastern Church Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), ...
, even receiving patronage from Byzantine emperors. It encouraged fine art and craftsmanship by employing Byzantine and even Saracen artisans. In 1057, Pope
Victor II
Victor II
recognised the abbot of Monte Cassino as having precedence over all other abbots. Many monks rose to become bishops and cardinals, and three popes were drawn from the abbey:
Stephen IX Pope Stephen IX ( la, Stephanus IX, links=no; c. 1020 – 29 March 1058) was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 3 August 1057 to his death. Family and early career Christened Frederick, he was a younger brother of ...

Stephen IX
(1057–58),
Victor III Pope Victor III ( 1026 – 16 September 1087), born Dauferio, was the head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Ch ...

Victor III
(1086–87) and
Gelasius II Pope Gelasius II (c. 1060/1064 – 29 January 1119), born Giovanni Caetani or Giovanni da Gaeta (also called ''Coniulo''), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1118 to his death in 1119. A monk of Monte Cas ...

Gelasius II
(1118–19). During this period the monastery's chronicle was written by two of its own, Cardinal
Leo of OstiaImage:Ostia antica - s Aurea - Leone Marsicano 1020496.JPG, Modern bust of Leo Leo Marsicanus (meaning "of the Marsi") or Ostiensis (meaning "of Ostia Antica (district), Ostia"), also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi (1046, Marsica – 1115/7, O ...
and
Peter the Deacon Peter the Deacon (french: Pierre le Diacre) was the librarian of the abbey of Montecassino and continuator of the ''Chronicon monasterii Casinensis'', usually called the Monte Cassino Chronicle in English. The chronicle was originally written by ...

Peter the Deacon
(who also compiled the
cartulary A cartulary or chartulary (; Latin: ''cartularium'' or ''chartularium''), also called ''pancarta'' or ''codex diplomaticus'', is a medieval manuscript volume or roll (''rotulus A ''rotulus'' (plural ''rotuli'') or ''rotula'' (pl. ''rotulae'') i ...
). By the 13th century, the monastery's decline had set in. In 1239, the Emperor
Frederick IIFrederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Freder ...

Frederick II
garrisoned troops in it during his war with the Papacy. In 1322, Pope
John XXII Pope John XXII ( la, Ioannes PP. XXII; 1244 – 4 December 1334), born Jacques Duèze (or d'Euse), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations ...
elevated the abbey into a bishopric but this was suppressed in 1367. The buildings were destroyed by an earthquake in 1349, and in 1369 Pope
Urban V Pope Urban V ( la, Urbanus V; 1310 – 19 December 1370), born Guillaume de Grimoard, was the head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3 billion Catholics . As the ...

Urban V
demanded a contribution from all Benedictine monasteries to fund the rebuilding. In 1454 the abbey was placed ''
in commendam In canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organiza ...
'' and in 1504 was made subject to the
Abbey of Santa Giustina The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a 10th-century Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious o ...
in Padua. In 1799, Monte Cassino was sacked again by French troops during the
French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution française) were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted French First Republic, France against Gr ...
. The abbey was dissolved by the Italian government in 1866. The building became a national monument with the monks as custodians of its treasures. In 1944 during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
it was the site of the
Battle of Monte Cassino The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, ...
and the building was destroyed by Allied bombing. It was rebuilt after the war. After the reforms of the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
the monastery was one of the few remaining
territorial abbey A territorial abbey (or territorial abbacy) is a particular church A particular church ( la, ecclesia particularis) is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a Bishop (Catholic Church), bishop (or Hierarchy of the Catholic Church#Eq ...
s within the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
. On 23 October 2014, Pope
Francis Francis may refer to: People *Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since ...

Francis
applied the norms of the ''
motu proprio In law, ''motu proprio'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...
'' ''Ecclesia Catholica'' of
Paul VI Pope Paul VI ( la, Paulus VI; it, Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, ; 26 September 18976 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the Li ...
(1976) to the abbey, removing from its jurisdiction all 53 parishes and reducing its spiritual jurisdiction to the abbey itself – while retaining its status as a territorial abbey. The former territory of the Abbey, except the land on which the abbey church and monastery sit, was transferred to the diocese of Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo. Pope
Francis Francis may refer to: People *Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since ...

Francis
at the same time appointed Father Donato Ogliari as the new Abbot who will serve as the 192nd successor of Saint Benedict. As of 2015, the monastic community consists of thirteen monks.


History


Ancient history

The history of Monte Cassino is linked to the nearby town of Cassino which was first settled in the fifth century B.C. by the
Volsci The Volsci (, , ) were an Italic Osco-Umbrian The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are a group of Italic languages, the Indo-European languages that were spoken in Central and Southern Italy by the Osco-Umbrians before being replaced ...

Volsci
people who held much of central and southern Italy. It was the Volsci who first built a citadel on the summit of Monte Cassino. The Volsci in the area were defeated by the Romans in 312 B.C. The Romans renamed the settlement
Casinum Casinum was an ancient town of Italy, of Osci, Oscan origin. Varro states that the name in Oscan language meant ''forum vetus'' ("old forum"), and also that the town itself was Samnium, Samnite before the Roman conquest. Casinum was a Samnite c ...
and built a temple to Apollo at the citadel. Modern excavations have found no remains of the temple, but ruins of an amphitheatre, a theatre, and a mausoleum indicate the lasting presence the Romans had there. Generations after the Roman Empire adopted Christianity the town became the seat of a
bishopric In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
in the fifth century A.D. Lacking strong defences the area was subject to barbarian attack and became abandoned and neglected with only a few struggling inhabitants holding out.


Era of Benedict (530–547)

According to hagiography, Benedict, ''Life of Saint Benedict of Nursia'', the monastery was constructed on an older pagan site, a
temple A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called church (building), churches), Hinduism (w ...

temple
of
Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλωνος, ''Apóllōnos'', label=genitive , ; , grc-dor, Ἀπέλλων, ''Apéllōn'', ; grc, Ἀπείλων, ''Apeílōn'', label=Arcadocypriot Greek, ; grc-aeo, Ἄπλουν, ''Áploun'', la, Apollō, ...

Apollo
that crowned the hill. The biography records that the area was still largely
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
at the time; Benedict's first act was to smash the sculpture of Apollo and destroy the altar. He then reused the temple, dedicating it to
Saint MartinSaint Martin may refer to: People * Saint Martin of Tours (c. 316–397), Bishop of Tours, France * Saint Martin of Braga (c. 520–580), archbishop of Bracara Augusta in Gallaecia (now Braga in Portugal) * Pope Martin I (598–655) * Saint Martin ...
, and built another chapel on the site of the altar dedicated to Saint
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
. Pope Gregory I's account of Benedict's seizure of Monte Cassino:
Now the citadel called Casinum is located on the side of a high mountain. The mountain shelters this citadel on a broad bench. Then it rises three miles above it as if its peak tended toward heaven. There was an ancient temple there in which Apollo used to be worshipped according to the old pagan rite by the foolish local farmers. Around it had grown up a grove dedicated to demon worship, where even at that time a wild crowd still devoted themselves to unholy sacrifices. When enedictthe man of God arrived, he smashed the idol, overturned the altar and cut down the grove of trees. He built a chapel dedicated to St. Martin in the temple of Apollo and another to St. John where the altar of Apollo had stood. And he summoned the people of the district to the faith by his unceasing preaching.
Pope Gregory I's biography of Benedict claims that Satan opposed the monks repurposing the site. In one story, Satan invisibly sits on a rock making it too heavy to remove until Benedict drives him off. In another story, Satan taunts Benedict and then collapses a wall on a young monk, who is brought back to life by Benedict. Pope Gregory also relays that the monks found a pagan idol of bronze when digging at the site (which when thrown into the kitchen gave the illusion of a fire until dispelled by Benedict). Archaeologist Neil Christie notes that it was common in such
hagiographies A hagiography (; ) or vita (from Latin ''vita'', life, which begins the title of most medieval biographies) is a biography of a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, holines ...
for the protagonist to encounter areas of strong paganism. Benedict scholar Terrence Kardong examines why Benedict did not face stiffer opposition in his seizure of the site from the local pagans. He contrasts this with the 25-year struggle faced by St. Martin of Tours in western Gaul by pagans angry at his attacks on their shrines: "By the time of Benedict, paganism was in a weaker condition in western Europe than it had been in Martin's time. And, of course, it must be remembered that Martin as a bishop was a much more prominent churchman than Benedict. This was an isolated and unusual episode in Benedict's monastic career. Martin, however, was thrust out of his monastery into the role of a missionary bishop in the fourth century." Benedict scholars (such as Adalbert de Vogüé and Terrence Kardong) note the heavy influence of
Sulpicius Severus Sulpicius Severus (; c. 363 – c. 425) was a Christian writer and native of Aquitania Gallia Aquitania ( , ), also known as Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guye ...
' ''Life of Martin'' on Pope Gregory I's biography of Benedict, including the account of his seizure of Monte Cassino. Benedict's violence against a pagan holy place recalls both Martin's assault against pagan shrines generations before and the Biblical story of conquering Israel entering the Holy Land (see Exodus 34:12–14). De Vogue writes "this mountain had to be conquered from an idolatrous people and purified from its devilish horrors. And like conquering Israel, Benedict came precisely to carry out this purification. No doubt Gregory had this biblical model uppermost in his mind, as is clear from the terms he uses to describe the work of destruction. At the same time, neither Gregory nor Benedict could have forgotten the similar line of action taken by St. Martin against the pagan shrines of Gaul." Pope Gregory I's account of Benedict at Monte Cassino is seen by scholars as the final setting for an epic set in motion at Subiaco. In his earlier setting Benedict "had twice shown complete mastery over his aggressiveness, Benedict is now allowed to use it without restraint in the service of God." Scholars note that this striking contrast is not stressed by Gregory but rather both settings are portrayed as part of a single battle account against the same demonic enemy. Where Satan concealed himself behind underlings at Subiaco, at Monte Cassino he drops the masks to enter into a desperate attempt to prevent an abbey from being built, and "that the sole cause of this eruption of satanic action is the suppression of pagan worship on the high places." While scholars see some similarities between the story of Benedict's encountering demonic phenomena and diabolic apparitions at Monte Cassino with the story of Saint
Anthony the Great Anthony or Anthony the Great ( grc-gre, Ἀντώνιος ''Antṓnios''; ar, القديس أنطونيوس الكبير; la, Antonius; ; c. 12 January 251 – 17 January 356), was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a s ...
's temptation in the desert, the influence of the story of St. Martin is dominant – with the resistance of Satan substituting for Martin's outraged pagan populace. Unlike the stories that may have influenced Pope Gregory's structure of the biography, Benedict's victories are practical, preventing Satan from stopping work on the abbey at Monte Cassino. Benedict's prayers are portrayed as the driving force behind the building of the abbey and the triumphs over Satan, through prayer: "Benedict the monk wrests from the devil a well-determined base which he never leaves." After the completion of the abbey, Satan's appearances in the story diminish back to the same level as Subiaco, "Only after the saint's death and by God's permission would other enemies, the Lombards, succeed in sacking it."Once established at Monte Cassino, Benedict never left. He wrote the
Benedictine Rule The ''Rule of Saint Benedict'' ( la, Regula Sancti Benedicti) is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia ( AD 480–550) for monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or ...
that became the founding principle for Western
monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). An ...
, received a visit from
Totila Totila, original name Baduila (died 1 July 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germ ...

Totila
, king of the
Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: P ...
(perhaps in 543, the only remotely secure historical date for Benedict), and died there. According to accounts, "Benedict died in the oratory of St. Martin, and was buried in the oratory of St. John." The Rule of St. Benedict mandated the moral obligations to care for the sick. So in Monte Cassino St. Benedict founded a hospital that is considered today to have been the first in Europe of the new era. Benedictine monks took care of the sick and wounded there according to Benedict's Rule. The monastic routine called for hard work. The care of the sick was such an important duty that those caring for them were enjoined to act as if they served Christ directly. Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at nearby Subiaco (about 64 km to the east of Rome), where hospitals were settled, too, as adjuncts to the monasteries to provide charity. Soon many monasteries were founded throughout Europe, and everywhere there were hospitals like those in Monte Cassino. Pope Gregory I's account of Benedict's construction was confirmed by archaeological discoveries made after the destruction of 1944. Adalbert de Vogüé recounts that "Traces have been found of the oratories of St. Martin and of St. John the Baptist, with additions from the eighth and eleventh centuries, together with their pre-Christian cellars. The first one which Benedict built in the temple itself was only twelve meters long and eight wide. From this, we can infer a fairly small community. The second oratory, on the mountain-top, where the pagan altar had stood in the open air, was of the same width but somewhat longer (15.25 meters)."


580–884

Monte Cassino became a model for future developments. Its prominent site has always made it an object of strategic importance. It was sacked or destroyed a number of times. "The first to demolish it were Lombards on foot in 580; the last were Allied bombers in 1944." In 581, during the abbacy of Bonitus, the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on ...
sacked the abbey, and the surviving monks fled to Rome, where they remained for more than a century. During this time the body of St Benedict was transferred to Fleury, the modern near Orleans, France. A flourishing period of Monte Cassino followed its re-establishment in 718 by Abbot Petronax, when among the monks were
Carloman Carloman may refer to: * Carloman (fl. late 6th century), father of Pepin of Landen * Carloman (mayor of the palace) (ruled 741–47) * Carloman I, king of the Franks (768–71) * Carloman, birth name of Pepin of Italy (781–810) * Carloman, son of ...
, son of
Charles Martel Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient ...

Charles Martel
;
Ratchis Ratchis (also spelled ''Rachis'', ''Raditschs'', ''Radics'', ''Radiks''; died after 757) was the Duke of Friuli The dukes and margraves of Friuli were the rulers of the Duchy of Friuli, Duchy and March of Friuli in the Middle Ages. The dates ...
, predecessor of the Lombard King
Aistulf Aistulf (also Ahistulf, Aistulfus, Haistulfus, Astolf etc.; it, Astolfo; died December 756) was the Duke of Friuli The dukes and margraves of Friuli were the rulers of the Duchy of Friuli, Duchy and March of Friuli in the Middle Ages. The d ...
; and
Paul the Deacon Paul the Deacon ( 720s 13 April in 796, 797, 798, or 799 CE), also known as ''Paulus Diaconus'', ''Warnefridus'', ''Barnefridus'', or ''Winfridus'', and sometimes suffixed ''Cassinensis'' (''i.e.'' "of Monte Cassino"), was a Benedictine monk, sc ...
, the historian of the Lombards. In 744, a donation of
Gisulf II of Benevento Gisulf II (died between 749 and 753) was the third last duke of Benevento before the fall of the Lombard kingdom. He ruled from 743, when King Liutprand came down and removed Godescalc, to his death up to ten years later.The ''Lexikon'' gives a ...
created the ''
Terra Sancti Benedicti The ''Terra Sancti Benedicti'' ("Land of Saint Benedict") was the secular territory, or seignory, of the powerful Abbey of Montecassino, the chief monastery of the Mezzogiorno and one of the first Western monasteries: founded by Benedict of Nursia ...
'', the secular lands of the abbacy, which were subject to the abbot and nobody else save the pope. Thus, the monastery became the capital of a state comprising a compact and strategic region between the Lombard
principality of Benevento The Duchy of Benevento (after 774, Principality of Benevento) was the southernmost Lombards, Lombard duchy in the Italian Peninsula that was centred on Benevento, a city in Southern Italy. Lombard dukes ruled Benevento from 571 to 1077, when it wa ...
and the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
city-states of the coast (
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of and the third-largest city of , after and , with a population of 967,069 within the city's administrative limits as of ...
,
Gaeta Gaeta (; lat, Cāiēta; grc, Καιήτη, Kaiḗtē) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function T ...
, and
Amalfi Amalfi (, , ) is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public servic ...
). In 884
Saracen file:Erhard Reuwich Sarazenen 1486.png, upright 1.5, Late 15th century German woodcut depicting Saracens Saracens () were primarily Arab Muslims, but also Turkish people, Turks, Persian people, Persians or other Muslims as referred to by Christian ...
s sacked and then burned it down, and Abbot Bertharius was killed during the attack. Among the great historians who worked at the monastery, in this period there is Erchempert, whose ''Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum'' is a fundamental chronicle of the ninth-century
Mezzogiorno Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), also known as ''Meridione'' or ''Mezzogiorno'' (, literally "Midday"; in nap, 'o Miezzojuorno; in scn, Mezzujornu), is a macroregion of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), ...
.


1058–1505

Monte Cassino was rebuilt and reached the apex of its fame in the 11th century under the abbot Desiderius (abbot 1058–1087), who later became
Pope Victor III Pope Victor III ( 1026 – 16 September 1087), born Dauferio, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 May 1086 to his death. He was the successor of Pope Gregory VII, yet his pontificate is far less notable than ...

Pope Victor III
. Monks caring for the patients in Monte Cassino constantly needed new medical knowledge. So they began to buy and collect medical and other books by Greek, Roman, Islamic, Egyptian, European, Jewish, and Oriental authors. As Naples is situated on the crossroad of many seaways of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, soon the monastery library was one of the richest in Europe. All the knowledge of the civilizations of all the times and nations was accumulated in the Abbey of that time. The Benedictines translated into Latin and transcribed precious manuscripts. The number of monks rose to over two hundred, and the library, the manuscripts produced in the
scriptorium Scriptorium (), literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts commonly handled by monastic scribe A scribe is a person wh ...

scriptorium
and the school of
manuscript illuminators A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opposed to mechanically printing, printed or reproduced in s ...
became famous throughout the West. The unique
Beneventan script Rule of St. Benedict, written at Monte Cassino in the late 11th century The beneventan script was a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and p ...
flourished there during Desiderius' abbacy. Monks reading and copying the medical texts learned a lot about human anatomy and methods of treatment, and then put their theoretic skills into practice at monastery hospital. By the 10–11th centuries Monte Cassino became the most famous cultural, educational, and medical center of Europe with a great library in Medicine and other sciences. Many physicians came there for medical and other knowledge. That is why the first High Medical School in the world was soon opened in nearby
Salerno Salerno (, , ; nap, label=Salernitano, Saliernë, ) is an ancient city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance ...

Salerno
which is considered today to have been the earliest Institution of Higher Education in Western Europe. This school found its original base in the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino still in the 9th century and later settled down in Salerno. So, Montecassino and Benedictines played a great role in the progress of medicine and science in the Middle Ages, and with his life and work St. Benedict himself exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture and helped Europe to emerge from the "dark night of history" that followed the fall of the Roman empire. The buildings of the monastery were reconstructed in the 11th century on a scale of great magnificence, artists being brought from Amalfi, Lombardy, and even
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
to supervise the various works. The abbey church, rebuilt and decorated with the utmost splendor, was consecrated in 1071 by
Pope Alexander II Pope Alexander II (1010/1015 – 21 April 1073), born Anselm of Baggio, was the head of the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billio ...

Pope Alexander II
. A detailed account of the abbey at this date exists in the ''Chronica monasterii Cassinensis'' by
Leo of OstiaImage:Ostia antica - s Aurea - Leone Marsicano 1020496.JPG, Modern bust of Leo Leo Marsicanus (meaning "of the Marsi") or Ostiensis (meaning "of Ostia Antica (district), Ostia"), also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi (1046, Marsica – 1115/7, O ...
and Amatus of Monte Cassino gives us our best source on the early
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
in the south. Abbot Desiderius sent envoys to Constantinople some time after 1066 to hire expert Byzantine mosaicists for the decoration of the rebuilt abbey church. According to chronicler
Leo of OstiaImage:Ostia antica - s Aurea - Leone Marsicano 1020496.JPG, Modern bust of Leo Leo Marsicanus (meaning "of the Marsi") or Ostiensis (meaning "of Ostia Antica (district), Ostia"), also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi (1046, Marsica – 1115/7, O ...
the Greek artists decorated the apse, the arch and the vestibule of the basilica. Their work was admired by contemporaries but was totally destroyed in later centuries except two fragments depicting greyhounds (now in the Monte Cassino Museum). "The abbot in his wisdom decided that a great number of young monks in the monastery should be thoroughly initiated in these arts" – says the chronicler about the role of the Greeks in the revival of mosaic art in medieval Italy. Architectural historian
Kenneth John Conant Kenneth John Conant (June 28, 1894 – March 3, 1984) was an United States, American architectural historian and educator, who specialized in medieval architecture. Conant is known for his studies of Cluny Abbey. Career Born in Neenah, Wisconsin, ...
believed that Desiderius' rebuilding included pointed arches, and served as a major influence in the nascent development of
Gothic architecture Gothic architecture (or pointed architecture) is an architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-class of sty ...
. Abbot
Hugh of Cluny Hugh (13 May 1024 – 29 April 1109), sometimes called Hugh the Great or Hugh of Semur, was the Abbot of Cluny The Abbot of Cluny was the head of the powerful monastery of the Abbey of Cluny Cluny Abbey (; , formerly also ''Cluni'' or ''Clugny'' ...
visited Monte Cassino in 1083, and five years later he began to build the third church at
Cluny Abbey Cluny Abbey (; , formerly also ''Cluni'' or ''Clugny''; ) is a former Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a monastic religious order of the Catholic Chur ...
, which then included pointed arches and became a major turning point in medieval architecture. An earthquake damaged the Abbey in 1349, and although the site was rebuilt it marked the beginning of a long period of decline. In 1321,
Pope John XXII Pope John XXII ( la, Ioannes PP. XXII; 1244 – 4 December 1334), born Jacques Duèze (or d'Euse), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by ...

Pope John XXII
made the church of Monte Cassino a cathedral, and the carefully preserved independence of the monastery from episcopal interference was at an end. That situation was reversed by
Pope Urban V Pope Urban V ( la, Urbanus V; 1310 – 19 December 1370), born Guillaume de Grimoard, was the head of the Catholic Church from 28 September 1362 until his death in 1370 and was also a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. He was the only Avignon ...

Pope Urban V
, a Benedictine, in 1367. In 1505 the monastery was joined with that of St. Justina of Padua.


1799–present

The site was sacked by
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
's troops in 1799. From the dissolution of the Italian monasteries in 1866, Monte Cassino became a national monument. During the
Battle of Monte Cassino The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, ...
in the Italian Campaign of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
(January–May 1944) the Abbey was heavily damaged. The German military forces had established the 161-kilometre (100-mile)
Gustav Line The Winter Line was a series of German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality ...

Gustav Line
, in order to prevent Allied troops from advancing northwards. The abbey itself however, was not initially utilised by the German troops as part of their fortifications, owing to General 's regard for the historical monument. The Gustav Line stretched from the
Tyrrhenian Tyrrhenian may refer to the: * Tyrrhenian Stage, a faunal stage from 0.26 to 0.01143 million years ago * Tyrrhenians, an ancient ethnonym associated with the Etruscans * Tyrrhenian Sea * Tyrrhenian Basin * Tyrrhenian languages See also

* * T ...
to the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
coast in the east, with Monte Cassino itself overlooking Highway 6 and blocking the path to Rome. On 15 February 1944 the abbey was almost completely destroyed in a series of heavy, American-led air raids. The Commander-in-Chief of Allied Armies in Italy, General Sir
Harold Alexander Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. It i ...
of the British army, ordered the bombing. The bombing was conducted because many reports from the British commanders of the Indian troops on the ground suggested that Germans were occupying the monastery, and it was considered a key observation post by all those who were fighting in the field. However, during the bombing no Germans were present in the abbey. Subsequent investigations found that the only people killed in the monastery by the bombing were 230 Italian civilians seeking refuge there. Following the bombing the ruins of the monastery were occupied by German ''
Fallschirmjäger The ''Fallschirmjäger'' () were the paratroop A paratrooper is a military parachutist—someone trained to parachute A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag (or in the ...
'' (
paratrooper A paratrooper is a military parachutist—someone trained to parachute A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', ...

paratrooper
s) of the 1st Parachute Division, because the ruins provided excellent defensive cover. The Abbey was rebuilt after the war. In the early 1950s, President of the Italian Republic
Luigi Einaudi Luigi Numa Lorenzo Einaudi (; 24 March 1874 – 30 October 1961) was an Italian politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is t ...

Luigi Einaudi
gave considerable support to the rebuilding.
Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI ( la, Paulus VI; it, Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, ; 26 September 18976 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the ...
consecrated the rebuilt Basilica on 24 October 1964. During reconstruction, the abbey library was housed at the
Pontifical Abbey of St Jerome-in-the-City The Pontifical Abbey of St Jerome-in-the-City ( la, Abbatia pontificia sancti Hieronymi in urbe; it, San Girolamo in urbe) was a Benedictine monastery in Rome founded in 1933 for the purpose of creating a critical edition of the Vulgate. The abbey ...
. Until his resignation was accepted by
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013. Francis is the first pope to be a member ...

Pope Francis
on 12 June 2013, the Territorial Abbot of Monte Cassino was Pietro Vittorelli. The Vatican daily bulletin of 23 October 2014 announced that with the appointment of his successor Donato Ogliari, the territory of the abbey outside the immediate monastery grounds had been transferred to the Diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, now renamed Diocese of Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo.


Treasures

In December 1943, some 1,400 irreplaceable manuscript
codices The codex (plural codices () was the historical ancestor of the modern book. Instead of being composed of sheets of paper, it used sheets of vellum, papyrus, or other materials. The term ''codex'' is often used for ancient manuscript books, wit ...

codices
, chiefly patristic and historical, in addition to a vast number of documents relating to the history of the abbey and the collections of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome, had been sent to the abbey
archive An archive is an accumulation of historical records – in any media – or the physical facility in which they are located. Archives contain primary source In the study of history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece An ...

archive
s for safekeeping. German officers Lt. Col. Julius Schlegel (a Roman Catholic) and Capt. Maximilian Becker (a Protestant), both from the Panzer-Division Hermann Göring, had them transferred to the Vatican at the beginning of the battle. Another account, however, from revisionist author
Franz Kurowski Franz Kurowski (November 17, 1923 − May 28, 2011) was a German author of fiction and non-fiction who specialised in World War II topics. He is best known for producing apologist, revisionist and semi-fictional works on the history of the war, in ...
's ''The History of the Fallschirmpanzerkorps Hermann Göring: Soldiers of the Reichsmarschall'', notes that 120 trucks were loaded with monastic assets and art which had been stored there for safekeeping. Robert Edsel (2006) is more to the point about German looting. The trucks were loaded and left in October 1943, and only "strenuous" protests resulted in their delivery to the Vatican, minus the 15 cases which contained the property of the
Capodimonte Museum Museo di Capodimonte is an art museum An art museum is a building or space for the display of art, usually from the museum's own Collection (artwork), collection. It might be in public or private ownership and may be accessible to all or ha ...
in Naples. Edsel goes on to note that these cases had been delivered to Göring in December 1943, for "his birthday".


Burials

*
Pope Victor III Pope Victor III ( 1026 – 16 September 1087), born Dauferio, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 May 1086 to his death. He was the successor of Pope Gregory VII, yet his pontificate is far less notable than ...

Pope Victor III
* Cardinal Domenico Bartolini (1813–87) * Saint Apollinaris, abbot of Montecassino, feast day on 27 November *Benedict of Nursia, Saint Benedict *Bertharius of Monte Cassino, Saint Bertharius, abbot of Montecassino *Józef Gawlina, archbishop and Divisional general *Saint John Gradenigo *Saint Scholastica *Sikelgaita, Sigelgaita of Salerno *Carloman (mayor of the palace) *Władysław Anders *II Corps (Poland), Members of the Polish 2nd Army Corps *Piero the Unfortunate


See also

*
Battle of Monte Cassino The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, ...
*Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino *Red Poppies on Monte Cassino *San Giovanni in Venere Abbey, San Giovanni in Venere *San Liberatore a Maiella *The Cassino Band of Northumbria Army Cadet Force *The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino *Lamp of Brotherhood, lamps that were distributed at Monte Cassino to promote reconciliation after World War II


References


Sources

* * * *''Catholic Encyclopedia'', 1908. * *Michela Cigola, ''L'abbazia benedettina di Montecassino. La storia attraverso le testimonianze grafiche di rilievo e di progetto''. Cassino, Ciolfi Editore, 2005.


External links


Abbey of Monte CassinoIllustrated article on the Battle of Monte Cassino at Battlefields EuropeSatellite photo from Google MapsThe Monte Cassino Society
original text of the 2014 apostolic constitution redefining territorial jurisdiction of the abbey {{Authority control Abbey of Monte Cassino, Hills of Italy Mountains of Lazio Benedictine monasteries in Italy Christian monasteries established in the 6th century Monasteries in Lazio Rebuilt buildings and structures Burial sites of the Carolingian dynasty Buildings and structures in the Province of Frosinone Churches in the province of Frosinone