The Abbey of San Benedetto in Polirone is a large complex of Benedictine order monastic buildings, including a church and cloisters. The complex, now belonging to the city, houses offices, a museum, and is open to visitors.

The abbey was founded in 1007 by Tedald, count of Canossa, the paternal grandfather of Matilda of Canossa, countess of Tuscany, with a grant to the Benedictine monks, of half his land lying between the rivers Po and Lirone, prompting the title 'in Polirone'. Polirone was the monastery most closely associated with his granddaughter, Matilda, who granted estates and dependencies. Boniface III, Margrave of Tuscany made further grants and commissioned a larger church, housing the remains of the hermit, Simeon of Polirone (died 1016). In 1077 the community passed into the reformed Benedictines under the Abbey of Cluny. At the time of the Gregorian reforms, the abbot was one of the principal proponents of the papacy in the Investiture Conflict.

From 1115 until 1632, the abbey church housed thearca raised on eight columns housing the mortal remains of Matilda of Canossa, who had selected Polirone as her memorial place, rather than the ancestral mortuary church of Canossa. For centuries she was accorded almost the veneration of a founding patron saint at Polirone. Her body was transferred to the Basilica of St. Peter, Rome, in 1632.

Polirone was one of the richest abbeys of northern Italy. In the 15th century, Guido Gonzaga, abbot in commendam, rebuilt the church in late Gothic style. The abbey church was rebuilt again to Renaissance style designs of Giulio Romano, in 1539-44, but some floor mosaics and sculptural details survive from the earlier church. The wall and vaults were extensively frescoed, by Antonio da Correggio and Antonio Begarelli, among others. Funding for reconstruction was posthumously granted by two main donors: Lucrezia Pico della Mirandola, sister of the humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, greeted by the monastic community as a 'new Matilda'; and Cesare d'Arsago. Thirty-one figures by Antonio Begarelli of Modena were provided for the church, and Paolo Veronese painted three altarpieces in 1562.

In 1797, the abbey was secularized by Napoleonic rulers. Three cloisters, the free-standing great refectory (1478–79), the 'new' infirmary (1584), and the abbey church are still present, and open to visitors. The contents of the library were added to the Library of Mantua.

Three themed itineraries of the monastery, offered since the millennium celebration of 2007, concentrate on aspects of the cloistered life at Polirone: 'Land and daily bread', 'Herbs and monks', and 'Prayer and reading'.

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Details

Founded: 1007
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Hans-Joachim Tamm (17 months ago)
Abseits der Touristik. Anschauen. Und wenn man Glück hat trifft man auf ihn!! Ein kleiner Mann, der grosses für seine Kirche leistet
Marcello Cafaro (17 months ago)
Di sicuro imponente complesso monumentale da visitare, ma che purtroppo quando ci sono stato era chiuso. Ma dire che si trova in un borgo tra i più belli d'Italia...
Rino Malavasi (18 months ago)
Importante complesso monastico situato sulla riva destra del Po, in provincia di Mantova. Vi fu sepolta alla sua morte Matilde di Canossa, signora di queste terre. La sua salma fu successivamente traslata e riposa ora in Vaticano. Abazia nel complesso ben conservata. Merita sicuramente di essere visitata.
Emmitt Smith (18 months ago)
Luogo storico in un borgo bellissimo. Da vedere in una gita giornaliera. Ottime scelte per la cucina nei paraggi.
Carla Ceruti (18 months ago)
Situata in uno dei Borghi più belli d'Italia, ne è certamente la parte principale, affascinante sua dentro che fuori. Per goderla al meglio, preferibile fare una visita guidata che contempla anche tutto il circondario
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