Sesto al Réghena, Abbey of

views updated


A former Benedictine monastery in the Diocese of Concordia, in northern Italy. It was founded about mid-8th century by Erfo and Marco (or Anto) about six miles from Concordia, on the banks of the Réghena (Veneto), under the title of Sancta Maria in Sylvis. In 775 Charlemagne granted it the privilege of exemption. Destroyed by the barbarian invasions at the end of the 9th century, it was rebuilt under Abbot Adolph (960965), and castles and farms were built on lands given by benefactors and were granted as fiefs to vassals. At the same time, the monks organized the gradual reclamation of the marshy and unwholesome areas fronting the Tagliamento River. In 967 Otto I presented the monastery to the patriarch of aquileia, to whom it remained subject for two centuries, always disputing with the patriarch questions of revenues and jurisdiction. The 13th century already brought with it a decline, hastened by the molestations and devastations of Ezzelino da Romano, discord with its vassals, disorders and strife among the religious themselves, and finally the practice of commendation, instituted by eu gene iv in 1431. At first protected by the Congregation of St. Justina, the monastery was later placed directly under the control of the Republic of Venice. In 1441 Pietro Barbo, later Pope paul ii, was named commendatory. The previous year, however, the monastery had been abandoned by the benedictines, who were succeeded in turn by the augustinians, the dominicans, and the franciscans. In 1612 paul v intervened to give it to the vallombrosans. In 1790 both the monastery and its commendam were suppressed and the holdings were sold at auction. In 1921 the temporary pastor of the church received the honorary title of abbot. Of the buildings of this imposing monastery almost nothing remains; but some of its library holdings are preserved in Udine, Venice, and Portogruaro (see of the bishop of Concordia). The basilica, which still stands as a distinguished monument from the 9th century, preserves the bell tower, formerly a tower of the monastery, an interesting entrance hall, and the crypt, all romanesque, and also several remarkable frescoes of the 11th and 12th centuries and others of the school of Giotto and of the later Renaissance.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:3020. g. b. peressutti, L'Abbazia di Seato al Réghena (Udine 1937). t. gerometta, L'Abbazia benedettina di Santa Maria in Sylvis (Portogruaro, Italy 1957).

[i. de piccoli]