abbey was founded by St Benedict around 529, perhaps on the site of a
temple of Apollo. It was completely destroyed in 1944 during the battle of
Monte Cassino. This was not the first time this had happened; the abbey
was sacked twice in early medieval times, was hit by an earthquake, and
was sacked once more by Napoleon’s troops. Each time it was rebuilt, as it
was after world war two, as an exact replica of what had been there
before. Luckily, the vulnerability of the abbey had been recognised, and
the greatest treasures were moved to Rome. They are now back where they
should be. The abbey church was reconsecrated in 1964.
May 2016: back
main focus of this trip was pre-Christian: Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum,
Cumae. However, an unexpected additional day trip was on offer – to Monte
Cassino and its abbey.
Below the abbey, around the town of Cassino, are the cemeteries of those who died in
the battle: around 75,000 soldiers were lost here.