A bit of history:
Founded in 1007 by Tedaldo di Canossa, it became one of the most important Cluniac monasteries in medieval Europe.
At the time the monastery was located on an island formed between the Po and the Lirone river.
The Canossa family, particularly Matilda, was the architect of the development of the monastery.
Matilda in 1077 donated the abbey to Pope Gregory VII, who entrusted it to Hugh of Cluny.
By her own wish Matilda was buried in the abbey, between the transept and the sacristy in a sarcophagus supported by four small lions. In 1634 Pope Urban VIII had his body moved, to be buried in the St. Peter basilica.
In 1420 the Gonzagas passed the monastery to the congregation of Santa Giustina of Padua. The activity continued until 1797 when Napoleon decreed its closure.
The abbey church:
It was completely rebuilt by Giulio Romano between 1540 and 1545. Without distorting the previous Romanesque and Gothic structures, he adopted original solutions to bring together different architectural styles and creating a refined and homogeneous interior.
Inside the basilica is the Oratory of Santa Maria dating from the late 11th to mid-12th centuries.
It seems that there was the first burial of Matilda in an urn in correspondence with the mosaic of the four cardinal virtues.
INFO POINT di San Benedetto Po
piazza Matilde di Canossa , 7
46027 San Benedetto Po (MN) – Italy
tel . +39 0376623036 – fax +39 0376623021
For more info:
wikipedia: Abbazia di San Benedetto in Polirone
wikipedia: San Benedetto Po
[Polirone monastery: 2nd; part]