Bobbio, Abbey of

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Founded by Irish monks, a well-known Benedictine center in the diocese of the same name, Province of Pavia, northern Italy, located on the Trebbia River. St. columban, exiled from luxeuil, crossed the Alps and founded the abbey with several of his companions. The community was organized under the Rule of St. Columban; it adopted a part of the Benedictine observance in 643, but not until the 10th century did the benedictine rule replace that of the founder. The monastery, soon dedicated to Columban, enjoyed the favor of the Lombard King Agilulf, even though it took a leading part in the struggle against arianism in northern Italy. Columban was followed by other outstanding abbots who strengthened the spiritual and temporal resources of Bobbio, especially athala, bertulf, and Bobolenus (d.652). Bobbio was the first monastery to be granted papal exemption (628), and the abbots were given pontifical rights in 643. Emperors from charlemagne to freder ick i barbarossa made liberal grants of land and revenues to the community, and abbots such as wala and Gerbert of Aurillac (the future Pope sylvester ii) were important figures in their time. In 1014 Emperor henry ii, on the occasion of his own coronation in Rome, persuaded Pope benedict viii to create Bobbio an episcopal see, and Abbot Petroaldus (d. 1027) became first bishop; for some time his successors were chosen from among the monks and continued to reside in the abbey. The next few centuries saw a gradual decline in the spiritual and intellectual work of the abbey as conflicts arose between the bishops and the monks over jurisdiction. The abbey was a part of the congregation of St. Justina from 1449 until it was seized and secularized by the French army in 1803. What remains of the monastery buildings is used as a school, and the abbey church, with the tomb of Columban, now serves the local parish. The bishopric of Bobbio, also suppressed in 1803, was reestablished by pius vii in 1817, and St. Anthony gianelli held the see from 1838 to 1846. In 1965 the diocese had about 25,000 Catholics in 70 parishes. It is suffragan to Genoa.

In the early Middle Ages the abbey was especially well known for its library. Columban brought the traditions of Irish scholarship with him when he came to northern Italy, and later abbots encouraged studies and acquired books. In the middle of the 8th century the learned dungal left his library, including the Antiphonary of Bangor, to the abbey, and a 10th-century catalogue [ed. L. Muratori, Antiquitates italicae (Milan 1740) 3:817824] shows the broad scope of the library's holdings. It was such libraries as that at Bobbio that preserved much of classical literature during the so-called dark ages. The Bobbio Missal was produced in the monastic scriptorium in the early 10th century. A great number of the library's books were lost in the 17th and again in the 19th century, although some can still be found in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, the vatican library, and the National Library at Turin.

Bibliography: Sources. c. cipolla, ed., Codice diplomatico del monastero di S. Colombano di Bobbio , 3 v. (Rome 1918). g. s. m. walker, ed., S. Columbani opera (Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 2; Dublin 1957). Literature. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 1:400402. a. wilmart, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 2:935962. f. bonnard, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 9:275284. p. verrua, Bibliografia bobbiese (Piacenza 1936). p. collura, Studi paleografici: La precarolina e la carolina a Bobbio (Milan 1943); San Colombano e la sua opera in Italia (Bobbio 1953). g. penco, "Sull' influsso Bobbiese in Liguria," Benedictina 9 (1955) 175181; Storia del monachesimo in Italia dalle origini alla fine del medio evo (Rome 1960), passim, but esp. 100110. Annuario Pontifico (1965) 67.

[b. j. comaskey]