The abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa origins lie at Sant Andreu d’Eixalada. It was founded by the Benedictines in about 840 AD. In the autumn of 878, the river broke its banks, flooding and destroying the monastery forcing the monks to seek refuge in the surrounding countryside. The community then transferred to Cuixà, a minor cenobitic community dedicated to Saint Germanus, led by Father Protasius. In June 879, Protasius and Miro the Elder, count of Conflent and Roussillon, signed the founding treaty of the new monastery, whereby Cuixà extended its properties with those contributed by Eixalada and Protasius was named abbot.
The abbey continued under the protection of the count of Cerdanya and Conflent. The territory then came under the domain of the family of Wilfred I, count of Barcelona in 870. In about 940, under the initiative of Sunifred II of Cerdanya, a new church dedicated to Saint Michael was built. In 956 the building was refurbished and made more sumptuous; the main altar was consecrated on 30 September 974 by Garí, a monk from Cluny who led five southern monasteries.
The Abbey was nationalised along with other ecclesiastical properties throughout France in the French Revolution. In 1790 the last monks were evicted and the Abbey was sold. Subsequently, the buildings fell into disrepair.
Some sculpture from the Abbey found its way into a collection of George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), a prominent American sculptor, and an avid collector and dealer of medieval art. In 1914, Barnard opened his 'Cloisters' exhibit in New York, along with sculpture from a number of medieval sites. The Cloisters was rebuilt and expanded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1938 at Fort Tryon Park, Upper Manhattan and is now a significant Medieval museum within the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The centerpiece and namesake of the museum is a cloister built using fragments of the 12th century cloister of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxha.
The Cuxa Abbey was refounded at its original site under the Cistercians, a reformed version of the Benedictines, in 1919. The Abbey was transferred back to the Benedictines proper in 1965.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.