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Historic Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria Damaged in 2009 Abruzzo Earthquake Reopens
The Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria was founded by Holy Roman Emperor Louis II in 871. Photo: Gianmarco de Felice, Università Roma3.

NEW YORK, NY.- Two years after a devastating earthquake hit the Abruzzo region of Italy, an important historic structure damaged in the tremor has been returned to its community fully restored.

Following the earthquake, Bertrand du Vignaud, President of World Monuments Fund Europe, in coordination with the Italian Ministry of Culture, identified the twelfth-century Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria as a priority project. World Monuments Fund (WMF), the foremost independent, nonprofit historic preservation organization, and the Fondazione Pescarabruzzo, the most important local benefactor, agreed to cover the total cost of the conservation program. WMF supported this project through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage and the Rudolf-August Oetker Stiftung.

At the inauguration ceremony on April 8, Gianmarco A. Marsili, Mayor of the municipality of Castiglione a Casauria; Bertrand du Vignaud; and Nicola Mattoscio, President of the Fondazione Pescarabruzzo, welcomed On. Gianni Letta, Undersecretary to the Italian Prime Minister; On. Francesco M. Giro, Undersecretary for Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities; Gianni Chiodi, President of the Abruzzo Region; and Luciano Marchetti, Vice-Commissary for the protection of cultural heritage.

Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria
The Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria was founded by Holy Roman Emperor Louis II in 871. The following year, the abbey received the remains of Saint Clement, a late-first-century pope and martyr. During the twelfth century the church was rebuilt, with a remarkable Romanesque façade that includes a sculpted tympanum depicting the building’s history, as well as Saint Clement in papal dress receiving a model of the rebuilt abbey. This type of façade, with an oratory above the portico, is rare in Italy.

The main doors of the church, created in 1191, are fine examples of medieval bronzework with a strong Byzantine influence. The doors are divided into square panels containing religious iconography, decorative patterns, and images of abbots and castles.

The earthquake of April 6, 2009, caused the collapse of a tympanum into the nave, damaging an ambon (pulpit) and a large medieval stone candlestick used to hold the Paschal candle. This collapse occurred over the grave of Pope Saint Clement, but his relics were retrieved from the rubble.

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