MONTE OLIVETO MAGGIORE ABBEY: the giant of the Accona Desert
Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey is located upon an earth language in the lunar landscape of the Crete Senesi. Its history begins around 1313, when the young noble Giovanni Tolomei from Siena (who later changed his name in Bernardo, in honor of St Bernardo Abbot of Clairvaux), together with Patrizio Patrizi, Ambrogio Piccolomini and some other friends, decided to leave Siena and the city life for retiring in a property of his family, dipped in a lonely country area in those days called Accona Desert, which yet inspires to the ascetic life. In the 1319 they were recognized like a congregation by Bishop of Arezzo Guido Tarlati Pietramala and chose to belong to the Order of the Benedictines. So they followed the Benedictines rule known like "hora et labora" (pray and work). Today Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey looks like a great Benedictine Abbey, and its rhythm of life still is regulated from the prayer and the work. Concerning the prayer it is a place for the monastic formation, about the work it has the important center for the restoration of the ancient books, where precious ancient books and manuscripts are restored. In the Main Cloister there are the frescoes by Signorelli and by Sodoma which celebrate the glories of Saint Benedict, in the Church there is the chorus by Fra Giovanni with the chorales made by the monks who humbly omitted their names. The library, even if have no longer part of its ancient treasures, maintains its fascination and the memory of the study and the science of the monks of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
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