Rome, 14 February 2018 (Ash Wednesday)
The Dignitatis Humanae Institute today signed a pioneering accord with the Italian Ministry for Culture to become the official Leaseholder of the historic Abbey of Trisulti, National Monument of Italy since 1873.
The original abbey, whose ruins still stand nearby, was founded by St. Dominic of Foligno in AD 987. Pope Innocent III ordered the current structure built in 1204 in honour of the Virgin Mary, whose first of numerous apparitions at the grotto beneath Trisulti was to a pious ascetic hermit sometime in the first half of the Sixth Century. This apparition was well-noted at the time because it was accompanied by two miraculous signs — an imagine of the Madonna in a stalactite (of which only the face remains conserved), and a spring of water which still runs to this day.
Innocent’s strong devotion to this apparition long preceded his election as Pope, and his papal summer palace is the building that today houses the National Library of Trisulti, which contains some 38,000 volumes and 35,000 ecclesiastical documents. Pope Innocent paid for the construction of the abbey from both his own pocket and Vatican funds, and he personally consecrated the new monastery in 1211. Trisulti, which was then part of the Papal States, was also under the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor from the time of Frederic II onwards. Bulls of Innocent and Frederic (as well as of Pope Boniface VIII) are conserved in the Library.
The abbey itself is situated 75 miles south-east of Rome in the Apennine mountains, at 850 metres above sea-level, surrounded by thousands of acres of protected centuries-old oak forest.
Presiding Abbot of the Cistercian Congregation of Casamari, Dom Eugenio Romagnuolo O.Cist — of the outgoing community — is an active member of the DHI’s Board of Trustees, thus ensuring continuity with the past as Trisulti goes forward into the future under its new leadership.
H.E. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, Honorary President of the DHI, said:
“I would like to thank Caterina Bon Valsassina and her colleagues on the Adjudicating Commission at the Ministry for Culture for their competence and diligence with which they have performed their difficult task, and we are proud and honoured to have been selected. I would also like to thank Minister Dario Franceschini for his pioneering policy of cooperation between the Ministry and private institutions for the greater promotion of the common good.”
DHI Board Member Mgr. Roberto de Odorico added:
“I warmly look forward in the years ahead to the DHI’s working closely with the competent authorities to ensure the preservation of this historic patrimony of Italy — and indeed of the whole world.”
DHI Board Member Abbot Eugenio Romagnuolo said:
“I am truly delighted that after many years of planning and preparation, the DHI is embarking on this exciting new chapter in its development. The DHI has a massive plan of renewal and regeneration for Trisulti, whose monastic history goes back a thousand years.”
Benjamin Harnwell, President of the Board of Trustees, said:
“Trisulti will be the home of a number of projects that underscore the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and that the recognition of the imago Dei is the cornerstone of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilisation. We are praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary — whose connection to Trisulti goes back one and a half thousand years — over this new chapter in our mission as we go forward.”