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Monte Cassino

Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about eighty miles south of Rome, Italy, a mile to the west of Cassino town (latin Cassinum) and about 1700 ft high. It is noted as the site where St. Benedict of Nurcia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, around 529 CE.

The monastery was constructed on an older pagan site and became a model for future developments. It was sacked or destroyed a number of times, in 584 the Lombards sacked the Abbey, in 883 Saracens sacked and then burned it down. It was rebuilt and reached the apex of its fame in the 11th century under the abbots Desiderius (who later became Pope Victor III) and Oderius. An earthquake destroyed the Abbey again in 1349 and although the site was rebuilt it marked the beginning of a long period of decline, signposted in 1505 when the monastery joined with that of St. Justina of Padua. The site was sacked by Napoleon's troops in 1799 and from 1866, the monastery has been a national monument. There was a final destruction on February 15, 1944 when during the four battles of Monte Cassino (January - May 1944) the entire building was pulverized in a heavy air-raid. The Abbey was rebuilt after the war, financed by the Italian State. Pope Paul VI reconsecrated it in 1964.

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