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borgo-italia

special report
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the diocesan museum and the Cistercian abbey of San Sylvester
(Nonantola (MO) - Emilia Romagna)
text by: borgo-italia [only desktop] - photo by: Gianni
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the diocesan museum and the Cistercian abbey of San Sylvester
(Nonantola (MO) - Emilia Romagna)

Taking a cue from the book of our friend Silvia Testa " Abbazie e siti Cistercensi in Italia 1120-2018" we went to Nonantola two authentic wonders.

The first one is the perfectly maintained diocesan museum, which preserves some of the most significant treasures of the Italian cathedrals, the second one is the abbey, which amazes and fascinates with its simple Romanesque grandeur and its particular architectural structure.
To be admired the crypt with 64 columns: the capitals are each one different from the other and more than half of them were carved between the ninth and the twelfth centuries.

A regret: we arrived late and we could not visit the Abbey Library.

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A bit of history[*]:
Founded in 752 by Abbot Anselm, it is one of the most important monastic settlements in northern Italy and played a decisive role in the reclamation of a large part of the Modena plain.
At the end of the ninth century it underwent the plunder of the Hungarians.
In 1117 it was damaged by the earthquake that devastated the Po valley.
In 1058 the abbot Gotescalco granted the inhabitants of Nonantola a large part of the monastery lands and in return the citizens had to build three quarters of the castle walls and protect the abbey in case of war.
From this concession originates the institute of the still existing Partecipanza Agraria.
In 1514 the Cistercians succeeded to the Benedictines.
The learned scholar Cardinal Rancati was one of the most prominent characters.
The abbey's heritage was damaged during the siege of 1643, when the papers of the archives and papal seals were used to make bullets.
In the 18th century Cardinal Tanara expanded the seminary and Cardinal Albani substantially modified the church and the monastery.
In 1783, during the abbacy of Francesco Maria d’Este, Duke Francesco III dismissed the monks and replaced them with a college of canons.
Following the Napoleonic suppression, in 1799 the monastery was sold to the Salimbeni family. After a century a part of it was sold to the Municipality of Nonantola.
The abbey is historically the seat of a diocese, and from 1986 it is joined to Modena in the Archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola.

For more info:
www.abbazianonantola.it
wikipedia: Abbazia di Nonantola
visitnonantola

[*]from the book “Abbazie e siti Cistercensi in Italia 1120-2018” - Silvia testa, Piero Rmoldi - ed. 2018

text by: borgo-italia [only desktop]
photo by: Gianni

Emilia 12 - release date: 2020-02-06