Narni

The Abbey of San Cassiano

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The abbey is located near to the town of Narni, on the steep slopes of Monte Santa Croce. It is in an unusual position for this type of building.

The church is in the shape of a Greek cross. The inside is divided into three naves by arches resting on columns, which are crowned by capitals that become cruciform pillars where they meet the arms of the building. The roof is made from wooden trusses and is a reproduction of the original one.

The facade is located at the top of a steep flight of steps and is set across four slopes, with a round and splayed portal (oblique-cut wall) which has a frescoed lunette and a large ring made of local stone. In the top of the building there is a mullioned window with elegant columns and three small oculi.

The square-shaped bell tower was rebuilt on top of an ancient tower placed at the side of the church and is lightened by a series of elegant windows with stone columns. There is a partially walled monastery in the area surrounding the church (probably dating back to the 15th century).

The abbey was founded by Benedictine monks and the first records relating to the monastery date back to 1091 and are referenced in the historical work known as Chronicon farfense. The date 1334 can be seen written on the walls of the monastery, the year in which structural work was carried out on the church, which culminated in the creation of the portal and the monastery bell tower.

These structural works are proof of the abbey's importance during the 14th century up until 1532 when it became an ecclesiastical benefice. However, the neglect caused by those who had taken over the property led to the abbey's subsequent decline and its later abandonment by the monks. The property was eventually sold in 1849 to private individuals.

The profound state of neglect in which the abbey found itself, which had led to both furniture and documents found inside the building being ruined, was brought to an end in the 1970s thanks to restoration work paid for by the Italian government. During the work restorers were able to see the primitive Greek cross plan which had been transformed into a basilica plan with three naves during structural work carried out in the 14th century. Today the abbey is once again a residence for Benedictine monks.

 

Bibliography

Santini L. (1998), Guida di Terni e del ternano,Ponte S. Giovanni (PG), Quattroemme
Sperandio B. (2001), Chiese romaniche in Umbria,Ponte S. Giovanni (PG), Quattroemme