Monte Cassino
Overview
 
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (80.8 mi) southeast of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, c. 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino
Cassino
Cassino is a comune in the province of Frosinone, Italy, at the southern end of the region of Lazio.Cassino is located at the foot of Monte Cairo near the confluence of the Rapido and Liri rivers...

 (the Roman Casinum
Casinum
Casinum was an ancient town of Italy, probably of Volscian origin. Varro states that the name was Sabine, and meant forum vetus, and also that the town itself was Samnite, but he is probably wrong. When it came under Roman supremacy is not known, but it probably received the citizenship in 188 BC...

having been on the hill) and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia
Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

 established his first monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

, the source of the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

 in 1944. The site has been visited many times by the Popes and other senior clergy, including a visit by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009.
Encyclopedia
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (80.8 mi) southeast of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, c. 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino
Cassino
Cassino is a comune in the province of Frosinone, Italy, at the southern end of the region of Lazio.Cassino is located at the foot of Monte Cairo near the confluence of the Rapido and Liri rivers...

 (the Roman Casinum
Casinum
Casinum was an ancient town of Italy, probably of Volscian origin. Varro states that the name was Sabine, and meant forum vetus, and also that the town itself was Samnite, but he is probably wrong. When it came under Roman supremacy is not known, but it probably received the citizenship in 188 BC...

having been on the hill) and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia
Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

 established his first monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

, the source of the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

 in 1944. The site has been visited many times by the Popes and other senior clergy, including a visit by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009. The monastery is one of the few remaining territorial abbeys within the Catholic Church.

History

According to Gregory the Great's
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 biography of Benedict, Life of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the monastery was constructed on an older pagan site, a temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 that crowned the hill. The biography records that the area was still largely pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 at the time and Benedict's first act was to smash the sculpture of Apollo and destroy the altar. He then reused the temple, dedicating it to Saint Martin
Martin of Tours
Martin of Tours was a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Around his name much legendary material accrued, and he has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints...

, and built another chapel on the site of the altar dedicated to Saint John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

. Archaeologist Neil Christie
Neil Christie
Dr Neil Christie is a British archaeologist and historian, and a Reader in Archeology at the University of Leicester.- Biography :Prior to joining the Archeology and Ancient History team at the University of Leicester in 1992, Dr Christie was both an undergraduate and doctoral student in Archeology...

 notes that it was common in such hagiographies
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 for the protagonist to encounter areas of strong paganism. Once established at Monte Cassino, Benedict never left. There he wrote the Benedictine Rule that became the founding principle for western monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

. There at Monte Cassino he received a visit from Totila
Totila
Totila, original name Baduila was King of the Ostrogoths from 541 to 552 AD. A skilled military and political leader, Totila reversed the tide of Gothic War, recovering by 543 almost all the territories in Italy that the Eastern Roman Empire had captured from his Kingdom in 540.A relative of...

, king of the Ostrogoths, perhaps in 543 (the only remotely secure historical date for Benedict), and there he died.
Monte Cassino became a model for future developments. Unfortunately its prominent site has always made it an object of strategic importance. It was sacked or destroyed a number of times. In 584, during the abbacy of Bonitus
Bonitus (abbot)
Bonitus of Monte Cassino was a Benedictine monk and abbot of the monastery of Monte Cassino. During his abbacy the monastery was plundered by the Lombards under Zotto of Benevento and Bonitus fled with his monks to the Lateran Hill in Rome, dying shortly afterwards.-External...

, the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 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 Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.This town hosts the Abbaye de Fleury, also known as the Abbaye de Saint Benoît . Founded around 630, it is one of the oldest abbeys of the Benedictine rule...

 near Orleans, France. A flourishing period of Monte Cassino followed its re-establishment in 718 by Abbot Petronax
Petronax of Monte Cassino
Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino , called "The Second Founder of Monte Cassino", was an Italian monk and abbot who rebuilt and repopulated the monastery of Monte Cassino, which had been destroyed by the invading Lombards in the late sixth century.A native of Brescia, Petronax had made a pilgrimage...

, when among the monks were Carloman, son of Charles Martel; Ratchis
Ratchis
Ratchis was the Duke of Friuli and King of the Lombards . His father was Duke Pemmo. His Roman wife was Tassia. He ruled in peace until he besieged, for reasons unknown, Perugia. Pope Zachary convinced him to lift the siege and he abdicated and entered, with his family, the abbey of Montecassino...

, predecessor of the great Lombard Duke and King Aistulf
Aistulf
Aistulf was the Duke of Friuli from 744, King of Lombards from 749, and Duke of Spoleto from 751. His father was the Duke Pemmo.After his brother Ratchis became king, Aistulf succeeded him in Friuli. He succeeded him later as king when Ratchis abdicated to a monastery...

; and Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon , also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, , was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.-Life:...

, the historian of the Lombards. In 744, a donation of Gisulf II of Benevento
Gisulf II of Benevento
Gisulf II 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....

 created the Terra Sancti Benedicti
Terra Sancti Benedicti
The Terra Sancti Benedicti 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 himself, hence the name of its possessions.The secular holdings had their origin...

, 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
Duchy of Benevento
The Duchy and later Principality of Benevento was the southernmost Lombard duchy in medieval Italy, centred on Benevento, a city central in the Mezzogiorno. Owing to the Ducatus Romanus of the popes, which cut it off from the rest of Lombard Italy, Benevento was from the first practically...

 and the Byzantine city-states of the coast (Naples
Duchy of Naples
The Duchy of Naples began as a Byzantine province that was constituted in the seventh century, in the reduced coastal lands that the Lombards had not conquered during their invasion of Italy in the sixth century...

, Gaeta
Duchy of Gaeta
The Duchy of Gaeta was an early medieval state centred on the coastal South Italian city of Gaeta. It began in the early ninth century as the local community began to grow autonomous as Byzantine power lagged in the Mediterranean and the peninsula thanks to Lombard and Saracen incursions.Our...

, and Amalfi
Duchy of Amalfi
The Duchy of Amalfi or the Republic of Amalfi was a de facto independent state centred on the Southern Italian city of Amalfi during the 10th and 11th centuries. The city and its territory were originally part of the larger ducatus Neapolitanus, governed by a patrician, but it extracted itself...

). In 883 Saracen
Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

s sacked and then burned it down, and Abbot Bertharius
Bertharius
Bertharius was a Benedictine abbot of Monte Cassino who is venerated as a saint and martyr. He was also a poet and a writer. A member of the Lombard nobility, Bertharius as a young man made a pilgrimage to Monte Cassino at the time of the abbacy of Bassacius and decided as a result to become a...

 was killed during the attack. Among the great historians who worked at the monastery, in this period there is Erchempert
Erchempert
Erchempert was a monk of Monte Cassino in the final quarter of the ninth century. He chronicled a history of Lombard Benevento, giving especially vivid account of the violence surrounding his monastic retreat in his own day. The work, Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum, stops in the winter of...

, whose Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum is a fundamental chronicle of the ninth-century Mezzogiorno.

It 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
Pope Blessed Victor III , born Daufer , Latinised Dauferius, was the Pope as the successor of Pope Gregory VII, yet his pontificate is far less impressive in history than his time as Desiderius, the great Abbot of Monte Cassino.-Early life and abbacy:He was born in 1026 or 1027 of a non-regnant...

. The number of monks rose to over two hundred, and the library, the manuscripts produced in the scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

 and the school of manuscript illuminators became famous throughout the West. The unique Beneventan script
Beneventan script
Beneventan script was a medieval script, so called because it originated in the Duchy of Benevento in southern Italy. It was also called Langobarda, Longobarda, Longobardisca , or sometimes Gothica; it was first called Beneventan by palaeographer E. A...

 flourished there during Desiderius' abbacy. The buildings of the monastery were reconstructed on a scale of great magnificence, artists being brought from Amalfi, Lombardy, and even 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
Pope Alexander II , born Anselmo da Baggio, was Pope from 1061 to 1073.He was born in Milan. As bishop of Lucca he had been an energetic coadjutor with Hildebrand of Sovana in endeavouring to suppress simony, and to enforce the celibacy of the clergy...

. A detailed account of the abbey at this date exists in the Chronica monasterii Cassinensis by Leo of Ostia
Leo of Ostia
Leo Marsicanus or Ostiensis , also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi , was a nobleman and monk of Monte Cassino around 1061 and Italian cardinal from the twelfth century.In Monte Cassino, he became a friend of Desiderius of Benevento, later Pope Victor III, and it was to him that Leo dedicated...

 and Amatus of Monte Cassino
Amatus of Montecassino
Amatus of Montecassino , a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Montecassino is one of three Italo-Norman chroniclers, the others being William of Apulia and Goffredo Malaterra...

 gives us our best source on the early Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 in the south.

Abbot Desiderius
Pope Victor III
Pope Blessed Victor III , born Daufer , Latinised Dauferius, was the Pope as the successor of Pope Gregory VII, yet his pontificate is far less impressive in history than his time as Desiderius, the great Abbot of Monte Cassino.-Early life and abbacy:He was born in 1026 or 1027 of a non-regnant...

 sent envoys to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 some time after 1066 to hire expert Byzantine mosaicists for the decoration of the rebuilt abbey church. According to chronicler Leo of Ostia
Leo of Ostia
Leo Marsicanus or Ostiensis , also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi , was a nobleman and monk of Monte Cassino around 1061 and Italian cardinal from the twelfth century.In Monte Cassino, he became a friend of Desiderius of Benevento, later Pope Victor III, and it was to him that Leo dedicated...

 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 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.
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
Pope John XXII , born Jacques Duèze , was pope from 1316 to 1334. He was the second Pope of the Avignon Papacy , elected by a conclave in Lyon assembled by Philip V of France...

 made the church of Monte Cassino a cathedral, and the carefully preserved independence of the monastery from episcopal interference was at an end. In 1505 the monastery was joined with that of St. Justina of Padua. The site was sacked by Napoleon's troops in 1799 and from the dissolution of the Italian monasteries in 1866, Monte Cassino became a national monument. During the Battle of Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

 (January - May 1944), on February 15, 1944 the abbey was almost completely destroyed in a series of heavy Allied air-raids which were ordered in the mistaken belief it was a German stronghold. In fact, the Abbey was being used as a refuge from the battle by the women and children and was only occupied by German troops after the bombing. The Germans held the position until withdrawn on May 17, 1944 having repulsed a number of determined attacks notably between 11 and 17 May by Polish troops who were finally able to take command of the ruins on May 18. The Abbey was rebuilt after the war, financed by the Italian State. Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 reconsecrated it in 1964.

The archives, besides a vast number of documents relating to the history of the abbey, contained some 1400 irreplaceable manuscript codices
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

, chiefly patristic and historical. They also contained the collections of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is a museum in Rome, Italy, commemorating the Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum houses one of the world's most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron,...

 in Rome which had been sent to the Abbey for safety in December 1942. By great foresight on the part of Lt.Col. Julius Schlegel (a Roman Catholic), a Viennese-born German officer, and Captain Maximilian Becker (a Protestant), both from the Panzer-Division Hermann Göring
Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring
The Fallschirm-Panzer-Division 1. Hermann Göring was an élite German Luftwaffe armoured division. The HG saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and on the Eastern front...

, these were all transferred to the Vatican at the beginning of the battle.

Burials

  • Saint Apollinaris, abbot of Montecassino, feast day on November 27
  • Saint Benedict
    Benedict of Nursia
    Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

  • Cardinal Domenico Bartolini (1813–87)
  • Saint John Gradenigo
  • Saint Bertharius, abbot of Montecassino
  • Saint Scholastica
    Scholastica
    Scholastica is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Born in Italy, she was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia....

  • Sigelgaita of Salerno
    Sikelgaita
    Sikelgaita was a Lombard princess, the daughter of Guaimar IV, Prince of Salerno, and second wife of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia....


Other places called Monte Cassino


See also

  • San Giovanni in Venere
    San Giovanni in Venere Abbey
    thumb|300px|Entrance of the abbey.thumb|300px|Cloister.The Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere is a monastery complex in the comune of Fossacesia, in Abruzzo, central Italy...

  • San Liberatore a Maiella
    San Liberatore a Maiella
    San Liberatore a Maiella is an abbey in the territory of Serramonacesca, in Abruzzo, Italy.-History:The origin of the abbey is traditionally linked to Charlemagne, who is portrayed in a fresco fragment within the church. The 9th century edifice was rebuilt a first time from 1007 by the Benedictine...

  • The Cassino Band of Northumbria Army Cadet Force
    The Cassino Band of Northumbria Army Cadet Force
    The Cassino Band of Northumbria Army Cadet Force is a Cadet-Youth Band.The band was formed in 2000, by George Morrison and Consisted of Cadets from various cadet detachment in Northumbria ACF's catchment area. As with all infantry bands, the Cassino Band takes its name from a battle honour...

  • Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino
    Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino
    The Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino holds the graves of over a thousand Poles who died, storming the bombed-out Benedictine abbey atop the mountain in May 1944, during the Battle of Monte Cassino....

  • Battle of Monte Cassino
    Battle of Monte Cassino
    The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...


Sources

  • Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908.
  • The Day of Battle: the War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6289-0 (for a tale of the 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino and the destruction of the Monastery)

External links




The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK