Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore


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Cloister

The Abbey > Visit the Abbey

At the heart of the Abbey lies the Great Cloister, the masterpiece of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, where one can admire the 35 large frescoes requested by Abbot Domenico Airoldi di Lecco, depicting the life of St. Benedict according to the account of St. Gregory the Great in Book II of Dialogues and painted first by Luca Signorelli (in 1495) and later by Antonio Bazzi known as il Sodoma (in 1505), who managed to match the story already depicted by the brush of his predecessor, both surpassing it and completing it.

Amongst the details of the frescoes we find the self-portrait of il Sodoma in the scene of "How St. Benedict mends the sieve that was broken", or the depiction of Luca Signorelli and of a very young Leonardo and Botticelli in the scene of "How St. Benedict received two Roman youths Mauro and Placido", as well as numerous animals so dear to Sodoma.

Also noteworthy are the frescoes of unknown artists on the inside of the cloister's columns representing figures of hermits or devotional scenes, produced between the 14th Century and 18th Century to commemorate the election of Abbot Generals or to record the visit of illustrious figures.

In the same cloister Sodoma's brush left other priceless frescoes like that of carrying the cross and
Jesus at the pillar, both fitting for the Profundis, the ancient burial place of the monks, where it is possible to admire frescoes depicting the desert fathers (1440). The fresco Benedict presents the Rule to the monksleads to the abbey church.


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