Monte Cassino

 


May 2016: back to Italy.

The main focus of this trip was pre-Christian: Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, Cumae. However, an unexpected additional day trip was on offer – to Monte Cassino and its abbey.  The abbey was founded by St Benedict around 529, perhaps on the site of a temple of Apollo. It was completely destroyed in 1944 during the battle of Monte Cassino. This was not the first time this had happened; the abbey was sacked twice in early medieval times, was hit by an earthquake, and was sacked once more by Napoleon’s troops. Each time it was rebuilt, as it was after world war two, as an exact replica of what had been there before. Luckily, the vulnerability of the abbey had been recognised, and the greatest treasures were moved to Rome. They are now back where they should be. The abbey church was reconsecrated in 1964.
  Below the abbey, around the town of Cassino, are the cemeteries of those who died in the battle: around 75,000 soldiers were lost here.

 


 

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The crypt: to the left is the sarcophagus of St Benedict, while on the right is that of St Scholastica, Benedict's twin sister.

One of the Abbey's treasures: a door by Donatello.


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