MUSEUM OF THE ABBOT IN THE ABBEY OF SAN MARTINO AL CIMINO
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
This museum is home to the ancient scriptorium of the Cistercian abbey and dates back to the first half of the 13th Century. The atmosphere of the scriptorium is elegant and vast. The room has a rectangular layout and is placed across from a courtyard. The room consists of two aisles made up of three colums each. Each of these colums is itself constituted of eight smaller columns. The capitals of these colums are decorated with “leaves of water”. Cross vaulting on the ceiling of the room extends down the walls into finely carved corbels. Numerous recesses, windows, and doors that are now closed up record that during the monastic period, this area was in constant communication with other parts of the abbey: the calefactory, the room where monks went to keep warm; the library called “basaria;” the house of the Abbot; the “locotorium,” where it was possible to go in and out of the abbey; the vegetable garden and woodshed. It was important for the scriptorium to be connected to the woodshed because this room had the two biggest chimneys. It is not hard to find the similarities between this building and abbey of Casamari or Fossanova (other Cistercian abbeys). This is because the gothic-burgundian architecture of the rooms has characteristics in common with the original French Cistercian abbey at Pontigny. The gate that gave access into the old scriptorium is now the location of the museum of the abbot. It is placed in the northeast corner of the courtyard of the abbey, which extends from the east façade, adjacent to the locotorium and the chapter house. In the entrance to the museum, there are parts of the capitals which were rediscovered during a restoration that took place in 1966. When one enters the hall of the scriptorium, one will find fragments of fresco and canvas that were part of the original structure of the abbey. One of the most important of these works is an oval painting representing “Christ scourged,” painted by an anonymous artist towards the end of the 18th Century. This work came from the altar that was inside the church of the abbey. Another painting, commissioned to an anonymous artist, depicts the archangel Michael and Saint Martin of Tours. This painting is set under the clouds in the village of San Martino ai Monti. The painting was the gift of the people of San Martino to Saint Martin to celebrate the end of the Plague of 1657-1659. Next to it is another painting on canvas showing Pope Innocent X. This work dates back to 1650 and is attributed to the school of Diego Velasquez. This was donated to the abbey of San Martino ai Monti by the pope in 1653. Next to it we find a painting on canvas depicting Saints Peter and Paul. This work was completed by an anonymous artist in the 16th Century. Another painting, by Tinti, dating back to the 17th century, shows Saint Veronica Giuliani. On the same wall is a fragment of a fresco from the Monastic Era (12th Century). This fresco, which was recovered from the inside of one of the abbey’s churches, depicts “Saint Bernardo di Chiaravalle”. This hall also holds an oval painting showing the “Madonna delle Grazie,” or praying Madonna. This painting was commissioned in 1729 and is attributed to Pietro Tedeschi. This work comes from an eighteenth century altar dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, which was inside the abbey’s church. Looking to the left, one can find a painting by an unknown artist showing Saint Joseph and the Baby Jesus. This painting was completed in the first half of the 19th century along with its gold decorated frame. To the right of this painting is a case containing “the reliquaries” of the abbey, purchased by the Princess Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilij. Wood works decorated in gold date back to the second half of the 17th Century. Among the better known of these wood works are the busts depicting Saint Martin of Tours and San Filippo Neri and containing their relics. At the end of this side of the hall one can find the processional flag made by Mattia Preti and commissioned by the Confraternita di San Martino, or the Brotherhood of Saint Martin, in 1649 in anticipation of the jubilee of 1650. This flag portrays on one side “La Carità di San Martino” and on the other “Salvator Mundi. During the recent restorations a cloth depicting the image of Christ was discovered. This cloth is used to protect the flag of Mattia Preti. On the wall on the far end of the hall there is a case in which two crucifixes are mounted. The first was called “the cross of the chapter” and went up around 1300, during the monastic period. It was conserved by the monks in the chapter house of the abbey. The second crucifix, made of gold plated brass was put up in the 17th century. There is also another crucifix in gold-plated wood put up in the same period and a case which contains silver ornaments from the liturgy dating from between the 16th and 17th centuries. On the left side of the hall we find a series of three cases. The first contains a series of mitres from the abbey that belonged to the abbots who lead the abbey from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The second, smaller case contains goblets, pix, and monstrance made of gold and silver. The most interesting are the two goblets on the first shelf which hold the papal coat of arms. These goblets were donated to the abbey by pope Innocent X and Pius IX. The last case contains liturgical decor, including the three vestments decorated with gold thread donated by Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilij to Pope Innocent X on the occasion of his visit to the Principality of San Martino al Cimino in 1653. This case also contains the cope of Pope Innocent X from 1653, imprinted with the coat of arms of the principality of San Martino ai Mont and the cope that belonged to Cardinal Giorgio Doria Pamhilij that has his family’s coat of arms.
MUSEUM OF THE ABBOT IN THE ABBEY OF SAN MARTINO AL CIMINO.
Translation by Clare Kuntz, Goucher College, enrolled in the USAC Viterbo program.
Colombo Bastianelli “San Martino al Cimino” edito dalla Confraternita del SS. Sacramento e S. Rosario 1999.
Colombo Bastianelli “Le contrade di San Martino al Cimino” 2006.
Archivio storico della Confraternita di San Martino al Cimino.