The Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba is a Cistercian abbey founded on 11 April 1136, located on the Via Francigena, in the Emilia region.
Abbazia di Chiaravalle della Colomba History
The Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba was founded by Bernard of Clairvaux, according to a request by the Bishop Arduino of Piacenza, spokesman of his city, around the year 1135 helped by the work of the monks he founded, the Cistercians, reclaimed the area for to be able to erect the Abbey, around which the inhabited center was built.
The name derives from a legend: it is said that a dove before the astonished eyes of the monks, has flown a long time in a single area, delineating the perimeter of the abbey with straws. It is clear that the dove so miraculous could only be that the Holy Spirit himself communicated the position of the church pleasing to God. The message was immediately acquired and the church still stands today in the same place where the miracle occurred.
Unfortunately, the monastery did not have an easy life later. It was in fact the subject of various looting and devastation by brigands and several armies. Even Frederick II of Swabia was the protagonist of a raid and after his passage few monks were saved from the fire that hit the complex.
Despite this, the abbey still managed to live in an honorable manner, until the arrival of Napoleon who deprived her of all her possessions, unfortunately seizing what once was a very rich library. In addition to this, he chased the monks and sold their land. The Abbey was then abandoned until 1937, when the parish priest Don Guglielmo Bertuzzi persuaded the Bishop of Piacenza to give new life to the abbey. The request was accepted and immediately the monks were recalled from the Abbey of Casamari who worked intensely to bring it back to its former glory. Today we can therefore admire and contemplate it as the seat of spiritual retreats and sales of typical products of the monks.
The Cloister, in Gothic style, dates back to the fourteenth century. It represents the culmination of the first cycle of work. It is the only one preserved in extra-urban situation on the whole territory A square plan, open on each side by 96 small arches supported by 130 columns coupled in pink Verona marble. The interiors are quite bare, since St. Bernard was against excessive decorations and above all the abuse of the bestiaries he thought monstrous. It also reports the patterns that the founder himself repeated in all its complexes such as the order and layout of the square cloister. The square was also the main form of the various rooms, the succession of which was as follows: from the east, the sacristy, the chapter hall and the parlor. To the south is the refectory and the kitchen. To the west we have the refectory of the conversi and some warehouses, as well as the hospice for pilgrims. In front of the refectory there is also a fountain for the ablutions of the monks. On the first floor there is the "sleeping area" used today in part as a museum.