Monastery of St. Michael (Murano)

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The Monastery of St. Michael (Italian: Monastero di S. Michele di Murano) was founded early in the second millennium by hermits of the Camaldolese Order on the island of Murano, located in the Venetian Lagoon. They were drawn to this location due to its remoteness and potential for the solitude they sought. At that time, the islands of Murano comprised a separate commune from the city of Venice.

There was a connection between the monks of that Order with Venice from the time of their inception. Their founder, St. Romuald, a native of nearby Ravenna, had settled with two companions in a small hermitage on an island in the region. Apparently he inspired a Doge of Venice, Pietro I Orseolo, so greatly to embrace the monastic life, that Orseolo was led to abandon his family and position, leaving without word in the middle of the night. He joined Romuald and the other monks in going to Spain to enter a monastery there.

The monastery which grew out of the endeavors of the settlers on Murano went on to become a leading center of scholarship and printing. Notable monks among the community included the cartographer, Fra Mauro, whose maps were so crucial in the European exploration of the world. Pope Gregory XVI was a former abbot of this monastery.

In 1810 the monastery was suppressed by the armies of the First French Empire, in the course of Napoleon's invasion of the Italian peninsula. The monks continued their communal existence as the faculty of a college, till that too was dissolved in 1814. The community then transferred to Padua.

At that point, the cloister grounds were seized by the Republic of Venice, which demolished the monastic buildings and began using the monastery's land as a cemetery. The grounds now serve as the major cemetery of Venice.

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