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The Cistercian Abbey of Casamari in  Lazio, South of Rome

(Abbazia di Santa Maria e SS. Giovanni e Paolo)





Italian Cistercian Abbey Pages



The word Casamari comes from the "house of Mario" - the Mario in question being Caius Marius, an unlikeable success story who was consul of Rome a record number of seven times, left behind an even less likeable son, and was the equally unlikeable Sulla's opponent in the civil war of 88BC.   Casamari sits on a 300M rocky hill beside the Via Maria, which connects the large towns of Sora and Frosinone to the south-east of Rome. 


A Benedictine Monastery was established here in the early 10 hundreds, and enjoyed a successful century before falling on more testing times.  Following Cistercian Spruiker Abbot Saint Bernard's visit to Italy in 1134 - 35, Casamari resolved to join up and became the 29th daughter house of Bernard's Abbey Clairvaux.



The Cistercians levelled the Benedictine buildings, and between 1203 and 1217 built a new abbey church and monastery laid out along what had become the standard Cistercian pattern.  Much of the building work and the monks' communities within survived the travails of the centuries, including a siege by Muzio Attendolo Sforza in 1417, commendatory abbots from 1430,  closure by Napoleon in 1811 (but the monks returned three years later), suppression in 1873 (confiscation of assets, but  the monks stayed on).


In 2004 the beautiful monastery still houses a Cistercian monk community numbering just over 20 (filling just a small corner of the huge refectory at mealtimes).  Despite their small size they have been instrumental since the Second World War in founding new monasteries in Ethopia, Eritrea, Brasil and the USA, and presently head a congregation of 19 daughter houses.  


The Abbey also has accommodation for guests - phone +39 0775 282371


Link to Casamari Website



A new look at our 2004 photos of the infiorata being laid out in the nave of Casamari on the day before Corpus Domini Sunday 2004



Our June 2004 visit to Casamari encountered a wedding celebration, or more accurately a 50th wedding anniversary celebration




Left:  The church still contains many windows glazed with cut sheets of alabaster (including the rose windows at either end of the nave).


A new look at our 2004 photos of the infiorata being laid out in the nave of Casamari on the day before Corpus Domini Sunday 2004



The Casamari Chapter House (4) is one of the finest built by the Cistercians


Don't get too carried away with imagining hundreds of medieval monks noshing away in the magnificent 37M long refectory (7).   This area was in fact the abbey's dispensarium or storeroom until a major renovation in 1952 converted it into the refectory.  Aficionados of Cistercian layouts will realize that the original refectory would have been  parallel with the church rather than on the west side of the cloisters.  Whatever, it's still a magnificent  if vertically challenged space.



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