Subiaco, Monasteries of
SUBIACO, MONASTERIES OF
Subiaco is a commune 50 miles east of Rome, whose name derives from nero's villa Sublaqueum (beneath the lake). Of 14 Benedictine monasteries in the neighborhood, 12 were built by St. benedict. Two of these, St. Scholastica and Sacro Speco, still flourish. The probable names of the other monasteries of St. Benedict are: S. Angelo, S. Maria di Morrabotte (S. Lorenzo), S. Girolamo, S. Giovanni Battista, S. Clemente, S. Biagio (S. Romano), S. Michele Archangelo, S. Vittorino, S. Andrea or S. Donato, Vita Eterna, and S. Salvatore di Communacqua. In 529 St. Benedict left Subiaco for monte cassino.
Sacro Speco, the cave where Benedict dwelt alone for three years, has since been venerated as a sanctuary, although he did not build there. Cenobitical life began there under Abbot Romanus (1192–1216), and the extant buildings date from the 13th and 14th centuries. The priory was dependent on St. Scholastica, with whose fate it was linked.
The abbey of St. Scholastica, a national monument since 1873, was not the first monastery of Benedict, who for his earliest disciples used a building of Nero's villa (S. Clemente, destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century). But since the 8th century it has been regarded as the most important Subiaco monastery. The oratory of St. Sylvester, the original patron, may be the small church recently discovered beneath the floor of the present church. In the 7th and 8th centuries the names of SS. Benedict and Scholastica were added to the title of St. Sylvester, which soon disappeared. It has been called St. Scholastica since 1400. The first centuries of its history are obscure. During the pontificate of Gregory IV (827–844) and probably in 876–877, it was destroyed by Saracens; but the monastic tradition was not interrupted. The feudal period began under Abbot Leo III (923–961), who was especially favored by Popes John X, Leo VII, John XII, and by the Prince of the Romans, Alberic II. Within 80 years the monastery increased its property sixfold. It flourished especially from 1050 to 1150 under Abbots Humbert (1050–69), who built the Romanesque belltower, and John V (1069–1121), Gloriosissimus abbas, a learned administrator known for moral and spiritual qualities, who led the monastery to the peak of its glory. Abbot Lando (1219–43) built the artistic Cosmatan cloister. Innocent III (1198–1216), who visited Subiaco (1202), enriched Sacro Speco and left a bull of reform. Gregory IX (1227–41) rented the castle of Jenne, which belonged to the abbey, and visited Subiaco several times, certainly in 1232. Alexander IV (1254–61), born at Jenne, inherited from his father the title "lord" held by his ancestors and so, as cardinal and pope, was the feudatory of the monastery. In 1260 he was at Subiaco and Jenne for two months, and left the monks an important apostolic constitution containing instructions on the religious life. The 14th century was a period of disorder and decline with only a short respite of peace and prosperity. Abbot Bartholomew of Siena (1363–69) reformed the abbey with many German monks and compiled the Consuetudines Sublacenses.
After "manual-curial" abbots, appointed by the popes, the Holy See in 1456 placed the abbey in commendation. The first commendatory abbot, Juan de torquemada, governed well and took in two German printers, Konrad sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz, who set up the first printing house in Italy in the abbey. Other
In 1915 Benedict XV in the apostolic constitution Coenobium Sublacense restored to the abbey the privileges of an abbey nullius (Sublacensis), and made the abbot an ordinary with quasi-episcopal jurisdiction, stipulating that the abbey church with its regular chapter should have the title, privileges, and honor of a cathedral.
Bibliography: l. allodi and g. levi, eds., Regesto Sublacense del secolo XI (Rome 1885). c. mirzio, Cronaca Sublacense, ed. p. crostarosa and l. allodi (Rome 1885). r. morghen, ed., Chronicon Sublacense (593–1369) (Bologna 1927). p. egidi et al., I monasteri di Subiaco, 2 v. (Rome 1904). g. drinkwater, History of the Monastery of Subiaco in the Middle Ages (Chicago 1932). b. cignitti and l. caronti, L'abbazia nullius Sublacense: Le origini, la commenda (Rome 1956). p. carosi, Il primo monastero benedettino (Studia anselmiana 39; 1956). s. andreotta, La famiglia di Alessandro IV e l'abbazia di Subiaco (Rome 1963). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 2:3099–3100. o. l. kapsner, A Benedictine Bibliography: An Author-Subject Union List, 2 v. (2d ed. Collegeville, MN 1962): v.1 author part; v.2, subject part 2:5310–31. Annuario Pontificio (Rome 1964) 732.