Earthquake damaged Abbey in Abruzzo restored

In 2009 a powerful earthquake occurred in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, with its epicentre being near the capital L’Aquila.  The earthquake caused the loss of over 300 lives and damaged thousands of buildings in this medieval city.

Major damage was also caused in many other town in Abruzzo, including in the town of Pescara where the historic Abbey of San Clemente was one of the buildings to suffer much damage.

The Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria was founded in 871 AD by Emperor Louis II, near the city of Pescara in Abruzzo. The church was dedicated to and housed the remains of Saint Clement, one of the first popes after Saint Peter and first Apostolic Father of the Roman Catholic Church.

Fortunately, the World Monuments Fund stepped in to help.

The conservation of the Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria is part of World Monument Fund’s long term commitment to maintaining Italy’s cultural heritage and an example of the Fund’s extraordinary disaster relief efforts. The Romanesque façade and tympanum with detailed sculptural depictions of the abbey’s history make it a rare and significant piece of architecture.    

The Abbey of San Clemente has an interesting history.  The abbey was pillaged many times, leading to its reconstruction in the 12th century, under Abbot Leonate, in the Romanesque style. The abbey is well known for its medieval sculptural carvings depicting the building’s history and the story of Saint Clement. The central doorway is extensively engraved with these figural portrayals on both the lintel and the tympanum. The body in the middle of the tympanum is Saint Clement with Saints Fabio and Cornelius to the right and Abbot Leonate to the left holding a rebuilt model of the abbey Other elements that characterize the artistic uniqueness of the abbey are the ornate bronze doors from 1191 (featuring depictions of castles and abbots as well as geometric patterns) and the high altar.

The overall layout of the monument is in the shape of a Latin cross divided into three naves with a semicircular apse.

During the earthquake much of the interior of the abbey collapsed.  Work on restoration began in 2010 and was completed in early 2011.

Thanks to the good work of the World Monuments Fund locals and visitors can once again enjoy a truly remarkable medieval church.

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