St. Pastor's Abbey
On top of a small hill amidst beautiful mountains, the majestic Abbazia di San Pastore (St. Pastor’s Abbey) stands solitary and proud as a castle, cypresses leading the way. This is a place of great history and spirituality, a haven of peace and protection from the madness of our daily life at the heart of superb natural landscapes.
The first stone was laid on 5th May 1255 by monks of St. Matthew’s complex nearby, as written on a commemorative plaque found at the bottom of the cloister’s well during the abbey’s restoration. The abbey was built where a tiny Medieval church used to be and it was completed by the end of the century, with alterations until the 17th century.
Throughout the 14th century, the Abbey controlled this whole area and had excellent relations with the town of Rieti; many were the lands under the abbey’s control, whereas several monks got to be treasurers in Rieti. For years, St. Pastor’s Abbey was a cultural, commercial and political centre renowned for the industriousness and spirituality of its monks, admired and respected by many. Unfortunately, the abbey’s downfall was near; as Shakespeare himself said, ‘These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die’.
Due to raids and pillages, as well as dishonest and incompetent abbots, the abbey gradually lost all of its power. Many of its possessions were then entrusted to both secular and clerical notable people, like abbot Silvestro Nobili, from the family ruling Labro, and several members of the wealthy Colonna family.
During the 16th century the complex was owned by the Canons Regular of the Lateran congregation and in 1843 by Rieti’s noble Potenziani family. This wonderful abbey, where princes and cardinals once lived, is located about 1,2 miles from Contigliano. Recently restored, it still shows the typical structure of Cistercian monasteries, built around its beautiful cloister. You can see the bell tower, the church, the chapter house with its groined vault, the sacristy, the parlour, the cells, the dining hall, the kitchens and the storage rooms.
It is truly a small world full of elegance and sobriety, employed today for all types of events: seminars, business meetings, receptions, exhibitions, musical events, maybe with a buffet set up in the adjacent park. As a matter of fact, the building can contain more than 600 people.