Casamari Abbey, Lazio

The Abbey of Casamari (Abbazia di Casamari) is a 13th-century active Cistercian monastery southeast of Rome, in the Italian region of Lazio.

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History of Casamari Abbey

The Abbey of Casamari is named for the "house of Marius." Caius Marius was consul of Rome a record number of seven times; his son was the Sulla's opponent in the civil war of 88 BC.

A Benedictine monastery was established on the site in the early 11th century and briefly flourished before falling into decline in the 12th century. Following a visit from St. Bernard of Clairvaux in 1134, the Abbey of Casamari became the 29th daughter house of Bernard's Abbey of Clairvaux.

The Cistercians completely rebuilt the Benedictine buildings between 1203 and 1217, designing a new abbey church and monastery based on the standard Cistercian pattern.

Fortunately, most of the abbey's architecture and monks survived the many hardships of the centuries, including a siege by Muzio Attendolo Sforza in 1417, commendatory abbots from 1430, closure by Napoleon in 1811, and suppression in 1873 (assets were confiscated, but the monks stayed on).

The abbey was extensively restored in the 1950s.

Today, the beautiful Abbey of Casamari still houses a Cistercian community numbering about 20. Despite their small number, the monks have founded new monasteries in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Brazil and the USA, and oversee 19 other monasteries.

What to See at Casamari Abbey

The Abbey of Casamari is built in the austere Cistercian style, specifically designed to avoid distraction and ostentation. Despite this (or perhaps because of this), the abbey is a beautiful sight, with delicate columns, vaulted ceilings, small stained-glass windows, and a lovely cloistered courtyard.

The spiritual life of the monks of Casamari centers on common prayer and visitors can enjoy their Gregorian chant throughout the week, either in person or online. The other main focus of the monks is work, by which they earn a living for themselves and for the poor and missions.

There is a small museum and bookshop at the abbey, and accommodation for guests is provided (phone +39 0775 332 371).

Quick Facts on Casamari Abbey

Site Information
Names:Abbazia di Casamari · Casamari Abbey
Categories:churches; monasteries; abbeys; abbey churches
Faiths:Catholicism; Cistercian order
Styles:Gothic
Dates:1203-17
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:41.671369° N, 13.487676° E
Address:Lazio, Italy
Email:webmaster@casamari.it
Website:www.casamari.it
Lodging:View hotels near Casamari Abbey
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (April 13, 2008).
  2. The Abbey of Casamari – official website
  3. Cistercian Abbey of Casamari in Lazio – Paradoxplace.com

More Information

West facade of the abbey church. © Adrian Fletcher
Cistercian Gothic nave of the church. © Holly Hayes
South aisle of the church. © Holly Hayes
Casamari's cloisters. © Adrian Fletcher
Medieval fresco in the abbey museum. © Holly Hayes

Map of Casamari Abbey, Lazio

Below is a location map and aerial view of Casamari Abbey. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.