San Vincenzo al Volturno, Abbey of

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A Benedictine foundation in the ancient Diocese of Isernia in central Italy. The monastery rose on a spot near the source of the Volturno at farfa; there in 703 three noblemen of Benevento(St.) Paldo, who became the first abbot, Tato, and Tasoretired to live a monastic life. It grew rapidly in importance, extending its rule over an extensive area so as to form a virtual monastic duchy. charlemagne recognized its immunity, but in 882 the Saracen invasion resulted in massacre of the monks living there and the devastation of the buildings. The remainder, who fled to Capua, returned after a few decades and rebuilt the monastery. It was always intimately linked with monte cassino and vied with it in the study of the humanities, history, and theology, as well as in its artistic and agricultural achievements. Its famous names bear witness to this: e.g., the theologian Ambrose autpert (8th century) and the monk John, compiler of the famous Chronicon Vulturnense. The Chronicon has made possible a reconstruction not only of various events in San Vincenzo and in several of the nearby monasteries, but also of the historical and political events of central Italy, down to c. 1070. During the 11th century, the abbey experienced a period of decline. Nevertheless, plans were made, in view of the huge holdings of the monastery and the inaccessibility of the abbey itself, located in the mountain fastness of the Apennines, to erect a pro-casa, or official residence, in Capua, where the abbot spent a large part of his time. About 1160, the local feudal lords began to invade the abbatial lands and incorporate them into their own domains, and the later practice of commendation hastened the decline in numbers among the monks and the ruin of the monastic buildings. A frescoed crypt dating from the days of Abbot Epiphanius (first half of 9th century) has been preserved and slightly restored. Around it are other buildings of more recent date.

Bibliography: Chronicon Vulturnense, l. a. muratori, Rerum italicarum scriptores, 5001500, 25 v. in 28 (Milan 172351) 1:319523; ed. v. federici 3 v. (Rome 192538). v. federici, "Ricerche per l'edizione del Chronicon Vulturnense del monaco Giovanni," Bullettino dell'Istituto storico italiano e archivio muratoriano 53 (1939) 147236; 57 (1943) 71114; "L'origine del Monastero di San Vincenzo al Volturno," in Studi di storia e diritto in onore di Carlo Calisse, 3 v. (Milan 1940) 3:313. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:291819. m. del treppo, "Longobardi, Franchi e papato in due secoli di storia vulturnese," Archivio storico per le provincie napoletane NS 34 (1954) 3759; "La vita economica e sociale in una grande abbazia del Mezzogiorno: San Vincenzo al Volturno nell'alto medioevo," ibid. NS 35 (1955) 31110.

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