Fonte Avellana

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Fonte Avellana Monastery

Fonte Avellana or the Venerable Hermitage of the Holy Cross, is a Roman Catholic hermitage in Serra Sant'Abbondio in the Marche region of Italy.[1] It was once also the name of an order of hermits based at this hermitage.[2]

Established by a group of hermits living at that site around the turn of the first millennium, it was closely connected to the reforms of St. Romuald, and its early customs and documents share much in common with the nearby hermitage of Camaldoli which Romuald founded. The community, in fact, eventually became part of the Camaldolese congregation.

It was raised to the status of an abbey in 1325, and remains the only Camaldolese house to have such a designation (all other such houses being designated simply as hermitages or monasteries). It soon came under lay control, however, and the fortunes of the community quickly deteriorated. The community, nevertheless, continued in existence, until it was scattered by Napoleonic forces. Yet after the upheavals of that period, the monastic community was again established and continues today as a major house of the congregation.

One notable feature of its architecture is that the cells of the hermits were built as suites. This way a hermit and his disciple could share the cell, yet each had their own sleeping space within it. This reflects the ancient custom of a hermit taking a young monk as a disciple, whom he would train in the ascetic life and often who would care for the older hermit as he aged.

It was once presided over by Saint Peter Damian,[3] and it was described by Dante in the Divine Comedy.[4]

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Coordinates: 43°28′22″N 12°43′40″E / 43.47278°N 12.72778°E / 43.47278; 12.72778