in Umbria

Abbeys and Monasteries

The Eugubino-Gualdese area is full of magnificent Abbeys and Hermitages, ascetic places from which the mysticism of the Middle Ages originated. A few kilometers from the Rio verde Camping, near Scheggia and Pascelupo, lies the Abbey of Santa Croce of Fonte Avellana. On the slopes of Mount Catria, in the middle of a magnificent hazelnut tree forest (Corylus Avellana), named after it, a jewel of the Umbrian Marchigian Apennines.

Abbey of Fonte Avellana was established by a group of hermits living at that site around 980. The tradition of the monastery states that it was founded by Ludolfi Pamfili, a former soldier, later hermit.

It was closely connected to the reforms of St. Romuald, and its customs and documents have much in common with the nearby hermitage of Camaldoli which Romuald founded. In 1035 Peter Damian entered the community, where he became a Benedictine monk and later became prior in 1143. He expanded the library, constructed a nearby cloister, and established a monastic house near San Severino. Albertino of Montone later also became prior there.

The Monastery became an Abbey in 1325 and remains the only Camaldolese house to have such a designation (all other such houses being designated simply as hermitages or monasteries). It soon came under lay control, however, and the fortunes of the community quickly deteriorated. The community, in fact, eventually became part of the Camaldolese congregation.

Nevertheless, it continued to exist, until it was dismissed by Napoleonic forces. Yet after the upheavals of that period, the monastic community was again established and continues today as a major house of the congregation.

Unbelievable masterpiece of Architecture is the Scriptorium , built so that the Amanuensis monks always had the sunlight available.

One notable feature of its architecture is that the cells of the hermits were built as suites. This way a hermit and his disciple could share the cell, yet each had their own sleeping space within it. This reflects the ancient custom of a hermit taking a young monk as a disciple, whom he would train in the ascetic life and often who would care for the older hermit as he aged.

Dante Alighieri visited in 1311 Fonte Avellana and described it in the Divine Comedy (Paradiso/ Heaven, 22)

Pope John Paul II celebrated a 1000-year anniversary Mass at Fonte Avellana in 1985

Near Pascelupo there are also the Abbeys of Sitria, where in the summer concerts are held for its exceptional acoustics, and the Abbey of Sant'Emiliano in Congiuntoli, once seat of the Templars Order.

The Hermitage of Monte Cucco, dedicated to St. Jerome, nestled in the rocks is home to a cloistered order. This makes it difficult to visit.

Camporeggiano Abbey, Saint Bartholemew Monastery, is the spiritual religious pathway unifyng many of the benedectine and franciscan abbeys in Umbria. The Abbey, of noteworthy historical importance, in 1057 was given by the Gabrielli family to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana.

At the request of Rodolfo Gabrielli, in the meantime appointed bishop of Gubbio, Pope Alexander II abandoned the Abbey to the Episcopal Council in 1063 and placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Olivetans stationed after the original group of monks, dependent on Fonte Avellana, was dissolved in 1417, and then passed to the Benedictine monastery of San Pietro of Gubbio.

Abbey of Montecorona: near Umbertide. The ancient semiprecious crypt is of great artistic, historical and cultural value. The upper three-nave church was consecrated in 1105 and has preserved remains of frescoes and a good wooden chorus. Interesting is the octagonal and circular bell tower, perhaps formerly a defense tower, with the recently restored clock.