San Vincenzo al Volturno is home to an eighth-century Benedictine monastery located in the Province of Isernia. The story of the monastery’s founding and subsequent social and political involvements were chronicled in a manuscript, formally referred to as the Chronicon Vulturnense (BAV, Rome, MS Barb. Lat. 2724), by a monk named John in 1130. The chronicle attempts to tell the story of the site, while bringing added glory to the monastery’s continued, and generally prosperous, history.
The founding story claims that three Beneventan nobles set out to live an ascetic life and were sent by the abbot of Farfa Abbey, Tommaso di Morienne, to found a cenobio near the oratory of San Vincenzo in Southern Italy, which was claimed to have been commissioned by Emperor Constantine. Subsequently, over the centuries the monastery grew to become an impressive presence in the south, reaching its heyday in the ninth century, when it housed over 350 monks within numerous complexes. Most of the extant frescoes still in-situ date to this time, during which the monastery was expanding and renovating. The richly-hued frescoes survive in two crypts at the site – The Crypt of Joshua and The Epiphany Crypt.
The site remained active late into the middle ages and is now home to Benedictine nuns. Archeological excavations have been continually underway at the site since the 1970s and many of the findings can be found in reports listed on the monastery’s website.
Epiphany Crypt, San Vincenzo al Volturno, 9th century, fresco.
Chronicon Vulturnense, BAV, Rome, MS Barb. Lat. 2724, 81v, ink on parchment.
Monastery San Vincenzo al Volturno, eighth century.
Martyrdom of St. Lorenzo, Epiphany Crypt, 9th century, fresco.
Crucifixion, Epiphany Crypt, 9th century, fresco.
Chronicon Vulturnense, BAV, Rome, MS Barb. Lat. 2724, 37r, ink on parchment.
Reconstruction of San Vincenzo al Volturno.