Monte Cassino (mônˈtā käs-sēˈnō) [key], monastery, in Latium, central Italy, E of the Rapido River. Situated on a hill (1,674 ft/510 m) overlooking Cassino, it was founded c.529 by St. Benedict of Nursia, whose rule became that of all Benedictine houses in the world. Monte Cassino was throughout the centuries one of the great centers of Christian learning and piety; its influence on European civilization is immeasurable (see Benedictines). Its greatest abbot after St. Benedict was Desiderius (later Pope Victor III) in the 11th cent. The buildings of the abbey were destroyed four times: by the Lombards (c.581); by the Arabs (883); by an earthquake (1349); and, after their restoration in the 17th cent., by a concentrated Allied aerial bombardment in 1944 (see Cassino). The German garrison, who had used the abbey as a fortress, survived the bombing in previously dug caves, but the buildings were flattened and most of their art treasures destroyed. A considerable part of the library's collection of invaluable manuscripts was saved by the monks. The monastery was rebuilt again after World War II.
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