Sagra di San Michele, Abbey of

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Or San Michele della Chiusa, former Benedictine abbey, present-day monastery of the rosminians, near Susa, Piedmont, Italy, Diocese of Turin. The Benedictine abbey founded by St. john vincentius (d. 1012), a disciple of St. romuald, was picturesquely and strategically located on a rocky abutment that commanded the valley of the Mt. Cenis Pass. Its very location made it important, and under the protection of the Savoy family it acquired immense political importance. It gradually gained vast holdings in Italy, France, and even Spain, provoking hostility on the part of secular powers and even the clergy and other monasteries. Conversely with the rise of the abbey's temporal power, its monastic life disintegrated, and in 1256 papal visitors excommunicated the entire community. Subsequent visitations and attempts at reform proved unsuccessful; the abbey's vassals meantime were becoming independent through continuous rebellions. Despite a brief revival under Abbot William of Savoy (131026) and his successor, Rudolph (132659), the monastery again lapsed into dissoluteness under simoniacal abbots. In 1375 the monks were again excommunicated and Abbot Peter di Forgeret was deposed; shortly afterward the abbey was given in perpetual commendation to the House of Savoy. However, this did not succeed in arresting the decline of the monastery; in 1586 Pope Sixtus V forbade the abbey to accept new postulants, and in 1622 the abbey was suppressed by Gregory XV, who entrusted it to the secular clergy of nearby Giaveno. Meanwhile the buildings, erected partly on the rock and partly on an enormous artificial pylon, were gradually disintegrating, including the old abbey church, started in the 12th century and completed much later. In 1836, by the initiative of King Charles Albert, the Rosminians came to occupy the old monastery. The buildings were restored at the beginning of the 20th century. Portions of the scattered Benedictine library and archives are preserved in Giaveno and Turin.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 1:775776. a. mellana, L'Abbazia di San Michele della Chiusa dalle origini sino al secolo XIV (Rome 1940), with bibliog. g. borghezio, Enciclopedia Italiana de scienzi, littere ed arti, 36 v. (Rome 192939; suppl. 1938) 30:437438.

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