Thursday, 26 February 2015

Fossanova Abbey (2)

The Abbey of Fossanova is famous for its Gothic-Cistercian architecture and is situated near the town of Priverno at the foot of the Lepini Mountains. Originally a Benedictine monastery in the 12th century it was taken over by the Cistercian Order.  The monks first drained the marshy land by digging a ditch to run of the water (new ditch - fossa nuova) and a new church was built. It's less than an hour's drive from our village so Priverno and the abbey at Fossanova is one that we know well.  The woods in the area are a good place to have a picnic and gather wild asparagus when it's in season around about Easter time.

The frescoes on the otherwise unadorned walls in the abbey and others in the monastery date back to the 14th century.


The Cloister: Rectangular in shape, three of the sides are Romanesque in style whilst the Gothic-styled fourth side was constructed much later in the 13th century and was done with the help of Roman marble workers. The covered kiok with its pyramid-shaped cover supported by beautifully-carved columns was typical of Cistercian monasteries.  Here the monks would use the wash basin during different times of the day - first thing in the morning, after work and before meals.

On our last visit we also went into the buildings where travellers would have stayed. Here Thomas Aquinas, the theologian, died whilst he was on a journey to Lyon where there was to be an important church council meeting. His cell and a chapel can be visited on the upper floor accessed by a narrow, winding staircase. Thomas Aquinas was originally from the local area in South Lazio and a family castle is situated in a hill town near to where we live in Italy.

                                                                 the cell of Thomas Aquinas

                                                                             the chapel

                                                             the wooden canopy over the altar

                                                             a bee - a detail of the marble altar
                            Among other things, the bee in Christian art symbolises the resurrection.

a corner of the monastery garden

This will be my last post for a while as I'm taking a blogging break.

                                                            I hope you have a happy March!