Peter of Farfa

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Peter (died ca. 919) was the long-serving Abbot of Farfa from about 890 until his death, replacing the interim abbot Vitalis. His abbacy marked the end of a confused period which saw four abbots in the space of two years.[1]

Santa Vittoria in Matenano

In 897 Farfa was attacked by Saracens and the words of a later abbot found "the properties of our monastery, which were given mercifully by the pious, dispersed cruelly by the impious [through] evil destruction".[2] The history of this and subsequent events is recorded in the Destructio monasterii Farfensis written by the early eleventh-century abbot Hugh, whose wording allows that some of the raiders were locals and not Saracens, who had begun to settle in south and central Italy and systematically plunder the countryside.[3] The abbey buildings were used as a barracks at first, but in 898 they were accidentally burnt down.

The monks of Farfa, under Peter's direction, fled, some to Rome and others to Rieti. The abbey's treasures followed them, but its library and archive were brought by Abbot Peter and a few others to the church of Saint Hippolytus in Fermo. He soon had them moved again to the castle of Santa Vittoria in Monte Matenano. Much of the loss of documents recorded by Gregory of Catino in the late eleventh century probably occurred during this itinerant period. Gregory's Chronicon Farfense, a chronicle, relies in part on Hugh's work, but he mentions the archival limitations (incompleteness and sometimes illegibility) in his Regestum Farfense, a cartulary. The books and documents did not return to Farfa until around 930.[4]


  1. ^ Marios Costambeys, Power and Patronage in the Early Medieval Italy: Local Society, Italian Politics, and the Abbey of Farfa, c.700–900 (Cambridge: 2007), 162n.
  2. ^ Costambeys, 346.
  3. ^ For which development cf. Pierre Toubert, Les structures du Latium médiéval: le Latium méridional et la Sabine du IXe siècle à la fin du XIIe siècle, 2 vols., Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 221 (Rome: 1973), 970–73.
  4. ^ Costambeys, 19.