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  • The Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino

    By Anthony Parente

    Image copyright Rose Parente. All rights reserved.

    Rising 1700 feet above sea level is the amazing and beautiful Abbey of Monte Cassino. The Abbey was founded in 529 by St. Benedict and it became home to the Roman Catholic order of Benedictines. Over the centuries the Abbey has endured many periods of success and hardship. In its existence the Abbey has been destroyed on four separate occasions. In the end it rose from the ashes to live and prosper again.

    To many the Abbey was a beautiful and magnificent monastery. To others it was a giant fortress perfect for a military post. Fifty years after it was founded the Lombards overtook the monastery and used it as a defense against the Roman duchy. Needless to say the Abbey was destroyed by the Lombards. The Benedictines didn't give up hope and nearly two centuries later it was rebuilt under the supervision of Petronax of Brescia.

    Eight years after the death of Brescia the Saracen hordes overwhelmed the monastery and burned it to the ground. Once again the Benedictines where able to return to the mountain to rebuild the Abbey. After the Abbey was resurrected for a second time it enjoyed a period of great splendor until a massive earthquake destroyed it in 1349. Soon after the earthquake, construction immediately began. Once again the Abbey arose from the ashes and in 1866 it was proclaimed a national monument.

    Like the Lombards in the 6th century the Germans used Monte Cassino as a military post during World War II. This fortress like monastery gave the allied forces much difficulty. With no success penetrating the monastery by land the allied forces turned to the air. On February 15, 1944 the Abbey was bombarded destroying the Germans stronghold on the area. After the war had ended the Italian government funded the reconstruction of the Abbey.

    If it wasn't for the dedication of the Benedictines and the spirit of its founder St. Benedict the Abbey would not have survived countless tragedies to remain one of the famous monasteries in the Christian world.

    The Abbey is truly a remarkable place. I had an opportunity to visit it and would recommend to anyone who was in the area to make the journey to this incredible place, which is full of history and life. The Abbey is located in the town of Cassino, which is situated in the southern part of the Lazio region. Please take a few minutes and enjoy over 20 photos taken within the Abbey.


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