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Abbey of Follina
In keeping with the custom of the Order of Cistercians, the Abbey of Santa Maria in Follina stands near a water course, between a mountain and a plain.
The monastic complex has been a national monument since 1921 and dates back to the 12th century. Between 1146 and 1148, the Benedictine monks were replaced by Cistercians, under whom the monastery reached the height of its power and splendour. Its relationship with the Da Camino family – and in particular with Countess Sofia – was fundamental. Its decline began halfway through the 14th century and culminated in its suppression by the Republic of Venice two centuries later. In 1915, the Servants of Mary settled in the Monastery of Follina and they still live there today.

The church is made almost entirely of stone and has a wooden roof. It is 45 m in length, 20 m in width and 16 m in height. It has a basilican layout with a nave, two side aisles and five rectangular and oblong bays. The transept has a higher ceiling than the side aisles. It shares its roof with the two chapels on the sides of the choir, which is flat at the end. The bell tower is square and has double lancet windows on each side. There are decorative panels that get taller the higher up they are, terracotta Lombard bands and small stone brackets.
The cloister was completed in 1268 under the Abbot Tarino. According to the plaque on the north side, the work was carried out by the brothers Arnaldo and Andrea and the masters Zaccaria and Armando.

Three examples of Medieval painting are still preserved here. On the outside, on the lunette of the single lancet window of the chapel on the left-hand side, is a frescoed fleur-de-lis. An archangel is painted on the external lunette of the single lancet window of the north transept. Inside the blind arches all the way along the area below the eaves, there are alternating paintings of the star symbols of Mary and Christ, vine (or fig) leaves, double lancet windows and three oeils-de-boeuf. The marvellous Deesisover the triumphal arch in the presbytery dates back to the early 14th century.

Other painted works can also be seen in the monastery’s church. They include a “Madonna and Child Enthroned between Saint Bernard and Saint Romuald” which is frescoed on the façade of the main doorway. It is attributed to an apprentice of Pordenone by some and to the master himself by others. On the wall of the left aisle is a 15th century depiction of Saint Thomas Aquinas holding his treatise on “The Holy Eucharist”. On the wall of the right aisle is a 1527 fresco by Francesco da Milano showing a “Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints and client”.
A sandstone statue of the Madonna of the Holy Chalice can be seen in a neo-Gothic wooden ancon built by skilled Venetian workers. It may date back to the 6th century and be of Nubian origin.

Photos: La Marca del 2000 – Vidor


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