The Montecassino Monastery was founded by St. Benedict about 529 A.D.
on the remnants of a pre-existing Roman fortification of the Municipum Casinum. The heathen cult was still practiced on this mountain site
in the temple of Apollo and in a nearby holy grove to which a sacrifice
area was adjoining.
became famous for the prodigious life and the Sepulcher of its founder.
Through the ages, the abbey was looked upon as a place of holiness, culture
and art for which it became renowned on a world-wide level.
Around 577, the monastery was destroyed by the Longobards of Zotone, Duke
of Beneventum, but early in the eighth century Pope Gregory II commissioned
the Brescian Petronace to rebuild the monastery.
the Saracens invaded and sacked the Monastery and burnt it down, causing
the death of Bertarius its saint Abbot, Founder of medieval Cassino.
The surviving monks first fled to Teano and later to Capua. Monastic
life was only fully resumed towards the middle of the tenth century, thanks
to Abbot Aligerno.
destruction, caused by an earthquake, occurred in 1349. Nothing but
a few walls remained of Abbot Desiderius' splendid building.
Many new additions and embellishments were made during reconstruction so
that the Abbey acquired the greatness and the imposing appearance it conserved
until February 15, 1944, during the final stage of world war II when Montecassino
happened to be on the firing line. This place of prayer and study
which had become in these exceptional circumstances a peaceful shelter
for hundreds of defenseless civilians, in only three hours was reduced
to a heap of debris under which many of the refugees met their death.
Reconstruction and decoration works took more than a decade and were exclusively
financed by the Italian State.