San Galgano Abbey remains amazingly intact today
One monk notoriously sold lead from the roof until it finally collapsed
The Abbey of San Galgano was founded by Cistercian monks from Casamari
Abbey in the 13th century. Dedicated to St. Galganus, the abbey was
constructed around 1224-88. While most of the surrounding grounds have
suffered decay, the abbey remains amazingly intact in the present day.
The detached rectangular cemetery chapel, highly picturesque among fields on the north side, dates from the 13th century.
However, the abbey swiftly declined in the 16th century due to a long period of corruption. The most notorious episode involved an abbot who sold the lead from the church roof, which soon collapsed. The monastery was eventually abandoned and the church has long since been deconsecrated. While the roof is still missing and the cloister has mostly disappeared, the abbey remains remarkably intact today.
Picturesquely located in the rural fields of Tuscany and modeled on the mother house at Cîteaux, San Galgano Abbey is a prime example of Cistercian architecture. As is with most Cistercian abbeys, it is austerely Romanesque in style, other than the graceful pointed arches which would become a hallmark of Gothic architecture.
The wide west facade, made of brick with stone cladding on the lower half, has three portals and two lancet windows. The east end is in Cistercian style, with a flat facade rather than a round apse. The east end has round windows above and small pointed lancet windows below.
The walls of the abbey church are also intact, with only the roof open to the sky. The capitals of the nave are finely carved with simple foliage designs, some of which include a small bird or human face.
The detached rectangular cemetery chapel, highly picturesque among fields on the north side, also dates from the 13th century.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: San Galgano Abbey, Tuscany, Cistercian monks
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