A Crusader, a Saint and an Abbey

“1106, augusti 8, Vidore”. One date, the beggining of a story. It was exactly the 8th of august 1106 when Giovanni Gravone da Vidor called up a notary to draft a donation contract to the Pomposa Abbey. But before we dig any deeper into the story, let’s first take a step back.

In 1095, during an homily, Pope Urbano II requested the European noblety to mobilize towards the Holy Land in what would later be known as the Crusade of the Princes. From the little citadel of Vidor, on the left bank of the river Piave, the lord of the castle, Giovanni Gravone, embraces the invitation of the pope and, having put together over 90 men, leaves towards Jerusalem.

We know little to nothing of his voyage. It is only mentioned that he returned in 1101, carrying along something to remind him of the crusade. The convoy that arrived in Venice aboard several galleys indeed was transporting a precious cargo: the earthly remainders of a saint. Santa Bona. They passed through Treviso, where until this day there is a neighbourhood dedicated to the Saint. Eventually they arrived in Vidor, where the knight laid to rest the holy relics in a small church of his property. Five years later, he called upon a notary and, in the presence of other noble knights, he donated the church, the relics of Santa Bona and other material goods to the Abbey of Pomposa, with the specific request to build, around the chapel, an abbey dedicated to the Saint.

The construction works began in 1107 and already in 1110 the first block seems to have been completed, as the abbey welcomes benedettine monks from the olivetan order. The first years are the most resplendent years for the abbey. The monks pursue notable land reclamation projects on the existing moorlands, creating for themselves a vast area of cultivable land. They also gave precious shelter to travelers daring to cross the Piave river, once much larger and deeper, and hosted a small but rich library. For the rest of the story we welcome you on one of our guided tours.


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