Montecassino Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Lazio, in the province of Frosinone, in the municipality of Cassino.
Founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Nursia at an ancient tower and a temple dedicated to Apollo, located at 519 metres above sea level, has suffered throughout its history an alternate story of destruction, looting, earthquakes and subsequent reconstructions.
In 577, during the invasion of the Lombards, the monastery was destroyed for the first time and the community of monks, with the remains of the holy founder, had to seek shelter in Rome. Then, the monks found 643 hospitality by the community of Saint Columbanus at Bobbio and later in various monasteries and abbeys colombaniane in Italy and Europe, spreading enormously Benedictine communities.
Rebuilt around under the impulse of 717 Petronace, the Abbey of Monte Cassino was destroyed a second time in 883 by the Saracens, but was rebuilt by order of Pope Agapetus II only in 949.
Throughout the middle ages, the Abbey was a great center of culture through its Abbots, its libraries, its archives, schools and writing miniaturistiche, which trascrissero and preserved many works of antiquity. Historical records of the highest interest and validity have been collected safe and handed down to Montecassino: from the first precious documents vernacular to the famous illuminated manuscripts, valuable and cassinesi rare incunabula.
The most distinguished of his Abbots was perhaps Desire-the future Pope Victor III (buried in the Abbey itself)-that at the end of the 11th century the Abbey completely reconstructed and adorned the Church of precious frescoes and mosaics, whose reflection you can still see today in what the abbot ordered in Sant'Angelo in Formis. From the Chronica Monasterii Casinensis know that Abbot Desiderio took effort and substantial capital for the reconstruction of the Abbey Church, accomplished in just five years from 1066 to 1071, using stone from Rome and then come also from Byzantium and mosaicists architects. Most of the decorations of the Church-and monastery rebuilt later environments-were composed of paintings, mostly lost today and of which we know only a few subjects, like the stories of the old and New Testaments in the Atrium, which houses all the tituli written by Archbishop of Salerno, Alfano. The use of Byzantine mosaicists was motivated, as we read in the Chronica, because: "for more than 500 years the Latin masters had left out the practice of these arts and to the commitment of this man inspired and aided by God they were put back in place in our time ', also ' so that their knowledge would not fall even further into oblivion in Italy, that man full of wisdom decided that many of the monastery were with every care started in these arts. However not only in this area but also to all works of art that you can perform with gold, silver, bronze, iron, glass, ivory, wood, plaster or stone, brought the best artists selected by his monks».
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1349 and again rebuilt in 1366, the Abbey took over in the 17th century the appearance of a typical Neapolitan Baroque monument, thanks to numerous decorations artists including Luca Giordano, Francesco Solimena, Francesco de Mura, dalimonte.