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On the acropolis of ancient Casinum, on the slope of a mountain, is the most famous monastery of Christianity, founded by Benedict of Nursia in the year 529. The saint dictated the Regula (monastic rules), that added study and manual labour to prayer, and it created the basis for the entire Western monasticism.

The abbey of Montecassino has suffered several devastations and four total destructions: in 577 by the Lombards, in 883 by the Saracens, in 1349 by an earthquake and in 1944 by Allied bombing.

Montecassino has always been an extremely lively cultural centre thanks to the patient work of the scribe monks, whose works are collected in the scriptorium, the archive and the library that preserve precious documents including rare incunables (pre-1501 printed books) and illuminated manuscripts (decorated and illustrated in miniature).

The entrance to the monastery consists of the cloister where once stood the first chapel dedicated to St. Martino, which then leads to a Bramantesque Cloister, with Renaissance plant, with the eighteenth-century statues of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scolastica at the foot of a wide staircase.

You enter the basilica through three bronze doors and the central one, executed in Constantinople in sec. XI, has carved in it the list of possessions of the abbey. Inside the main altar houses the mortal remains of St. Benedict and St. Scolastica. Behind the altar there is a wooden choir and an organ with over 5000 pipes.

The museum houses precious traces of artistic, cultural and religious history of the abbey, of the surrounding area as well as a beautiful Nativity by Botticelli.



Traveller's Guide to Italy