History of the monastery

 

 

The monastery of San Luca has a history of over six hundred years, a history of uninterrupted female Benedictine monastic presence in the city of Fabriano.

The beginnings: the history of unions

Some of the XIV-XV century items
The name of "Saint Luke" on paper
The name of "Saint Luke" in artistic works
Artwork and blossoming of the monastery
Foundation  and suppressions history
The Second Vatican Council and the monastic community of St. Luke
Legal terms

 

 

The beginnings: the history of unions

The currently inhabited building housed initially a small group of nuns from the monastery of SS. Salvatore located - in 1240 - outside the Pisana gate and whose church stood until the seventeenth century. The nuns moved into the current monastery probably in 1390 and the first name they gave the monastery was SS. Salvatore, whose feast was celebrated with special devotion on Ascension Day, until the early 1900s.

This first group was joined by the nuns of St. Luke: their monastery was outside of Cervara gate and was mentioned for the first time in 1337, according to Sassi historian of Fabriano.

On September 30, 1408, John Bishop of Camerino ordered by a decree (a copy of which still exists) that the monastery of St. Luke be united, annexed and incorporated into the monastery of SS. Salvatore, under the guidance of the abbess of the latter, on the site where it stands to this day.

This decree was given for safety reasons and concerned all the female convents located outside the city walls of Fabriano: so the monasteries, which were sixteen, became six, all urbanized.

 

Some of the XIV-XV century items

Some works from this first period of the monastery still exist.

In the church there is a fresco of the Madonna with Child, by a local artist, the master of S. Verecondo, dated around the beginning of the 1400. It has been restored with an intervention of the Superintendent in 2000.

Another fresco of Jesus with the cross is located in a corridor at the side of the church; it is dated around the end of the 1300s and is presumably attributable to the artist Bernardino di Mariotto (Perugia 1478-1566).

In the lower room of the guesthouse, during the restoration work following the earthquake (1997), Renaissance frescoes dedicated to the Passion cycle came to light, they were also restored with the intervention of the Cultural Heritage's Superintendent.

 

 

The name of "Saint Luke" on paper

In 1430 and in 1438 the monastery inside the walls was still called SS. Salvator. And, despite the decree of John Bishop of Camerino (1408), it would seem that only after 1438 the nuns of Saint Luke were united in the current site. We do not know when and why the monastery took the name of San Luca: we can speculate that it was on the occasion of the the Evangelist's church. The reason for this choice without origins the Benedictine monastic tradition remains unknown and presents itself as unique.

 

 

The name of "Saint Luke" in artistic works

 

You can reconstruct history through the artistic evidence of the monastery.
In one of the cloisters still exist today two column capitals. One of them bears the date of 1517, and the other represents a bull, symbol of the evangelist St. Luke, with two S-L initials beside them. A third column capital shows the signature of the workers who carried out the work: this is the oldest evidence we have left, which shows us what name the monastery had already at that time.

 

 

 

Subsequently, in 1600, the Florentine painter Andrea Boscoli signed the work, kept in the church, depicting the evangelist Luke listening to the Virgin Mother (topos of Lucan iconography) with the young Placido beside them (who in monastic history is the prototype of the monk-disciple); This approach is absolutely unusual and suggests a canvas expressly commissioned by the nuns who wanted to be represented tying the figure of the Evangelist Luke to the Benedictine monasticism.

 

 

Artwork and blossoming of the monastery

Between the second half of the 1500s and the first half of the 1600s here must have been in the monastery a group of nuns particularly active from the cultural point of view and with some available assets: in fact in this period the most numerous and best artistic works were produced.

 

The fresco of the monastic refectory Is from 1614. This is a last supper of the painter Giuseppe Bastiani of Macerata, which he revived in later years in the Fabriano Cathedral.

 

The church was completely renovated and restored in the early decades of the 1600s. The coffered ceiling by the engraver Michele Buti, which is dated 1634, has at its center a wooden panel with a painting of the Virgin Mary's Assumption. The same theme is repeated in the recently restored oil canvas (2008), placed behind the altar, which also depicts the Ascension of the Lord with Mary and John the Evangelist, and is attribute to the Venetian painter Jacopo Nigreti known as Palma the Younger (1548-1628).

 

From this period are also the two paintings by Andrea Boscoli, which adorned the two side altars, one with St. Luke and the other depicting the Annunciation (interesting representation of Archangel Gabriel as deacon). Both paintings have been included in two majestic wooden frames.

The monastic choir is still used in walnut wood and bears the date of 1648.

The pipe organ was rebuilt by the organ builder Francesco Cioccolani in 1854 on a "base dating to the eighteenth century." It is located between the scriptorium and the choir and was restored in 2000.

 

In the year 1784 the monastery of St. Thomas of Fabriano was suppressed and the nuns were divided between St. Romuald, St. Margaret and St. Luke monasteries. Four nuns and two lay sisters who brought with them a beautiful wooden crucifix, now placed in the chapter house of the monastery came to St. Luke.

 

 

 

Foundation  and suppressions history

In the flowering period of the monastery (1550-1800) the St. Luke community also made a small foundation: in 1587, with a papal bull of Gregory XIII on 11 June, four nuns (the names remembered in the historical archive documents ) left Fabriano to found the monastery of S. Benvenuto in Osimo.

 

In 1810 the monastery of St. Luke was suppressed under the Napoleonic laws but the nuns  returned a few years later (1813). The monastery was suppressed again in 1861. Again the nuns were able to return after a few months since they nominally regained the individual parts of the monastic complex. However, to reopen the convent, the nuns had to have a socially useful activity and so decided to buy also part of the building of Sant 'Onofrio: a convent adjacent to the monastery St. Luke and belonging to the "Poor Franciscan Ladies ", before their abolition. In the building of Onofrio the nuns opened a boarding school for girls from the surrounding villages who were studying in Fabriano.

 

 

The Second Vatican Council and the monastic community of St. Luke

 

Apart from the period of the wars, the boarding school for girls was still working up to the 1970, a time when the monastic community of St. Luke was redesigned, according to the council event (Vatican Council II).
In the boarding school environment, properly restored, the monastic guesthouse was then opened, according to the typically Benedictine tradition of hospitality.

 

 

 

In those years, under the influence of the liturgical reform, in the church of St. Luke there were also adjustments of the liturgical hall more conformed to constitute a celebrating assembly.

 

Among these adjustments, there was also the altar restoration, by using an ancient carved piece of wood from the 1700s. The surface has embedded a small silver plaque with the initials of the name of Jesus surrounded by twelve triangular fragments of semiprecious stones, the stones mentioned in Rev 21 for the heavenly Jerusalem. Under the altar are relics of St. Felicissimo martyr.

 

Legal terms

In 1932 a decree was issued to make the monastery a legal entity, as it is today.

In the years that preceded the Second Vatican Council were established - on a geographical basis - the Federations of Italian Benedictine monasteries, by the will of the Holy See and for the need of exchange and fraternal assistance felt in various women's monastic communities. The nuns of St. Luke belong to the Umbria-Marche Federation.

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