I cistercensi foglianti

in Piemonte tra chiostro e corte (secoli XVI-XIX)

a cura di Gianfranco Armando, Silvia Beltramo, Paolo Cozzo, Cristina Cuneo
Collana: Chiese d’Italia, 8
Pubblicazione: Dicembre 2020
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Sorta nell’abbazia francese di Feuillant sul finire del Cinquecento, la congregazione dei cistercensi riformati si sviluppò anche in Italia e, in particolare, nel ducato di Savoia. Qui i foglianti (così chiamati in ricordo della loro casa madre), grazie al forte ascendente esercitato sulla corte sabauda, arrivarono a contare – fra nuovi monasteri e antiche abbazie ad essi affidati – circa una ventina di insediamenti, per lo più localizzati in Piemonte. Fino alla Restaurazione, quando la vicenda fogliante si esaurì, queste comunità furono laboratori di esperienze spirituali capaci di interagire con equilibri politici, assetti patrimoniali, attività economiche, interessi culturali, sensibilità artistiche presenti sui territori lasciando evidenti segni di riplasmazioni urbane e architettoniche.

Questo volume, esito di un progetto di ricerca interdisciplinare e internazionale sostenuto da diversi enti e istituzioni, prospetta molteplici approcci e competenze utili a far luce sulla complessità e la ricchezza di una delle più significative (e sinora meno studiate) esperienze monastiche di età moderna.

In copertina: Torino, via Milano. Medaglione con la Consolata, san Benedetto e san Bernardo, 1752. Foto Edoardo Piccoli.

I foglianti di Vercelli: da San Vittore a Sant’Andrea
Giorgio Tibaldeschi

The article examines the settlement of the Foglianti in Vercelli, from their arrival in 1622 at the church of San Vittore, to the subsequent move to the new church of the Consolazione and subsequently to the abbey of Sant’Andrea, up to the suppression in 1802. Their arrival was due to the initiative of Giacomo Goria, Bishop of Vercelli, who had met and appreciated the new Congregation in a year spent at the church of Santa Pudenziana in Rome. Having overcome the first difficulties with the confraternity of San Vittore, whose church and annexed premises had been assigned to the Foglianti, the small religious community soon acquired esteem and economic resources with which to carry out its mission. Perhaps due to new tensions with the confraternity of San Vittore, the Foglianti of Vercelli decided to move to another part of the city, to premises they had purchased, where in around 1694 they built a new monastery of the Consolata and a new church dedicated to Santi Vittore e Amedeo. In this new church they also transported a 15th century fresco from its original place in the church of San Vittore in 1719-1720. Over time, the community of Foglianti amounted to seven monks, two lay people and three secular servants, dedicated to administering the sacraments, caring for the sick, distributing food to the poor, prisoners and confreres of other religious communities. The centuries-old abbey of San Andrea was suppressed in 1798; the lateranensi were replaced by the Foglianti who had to pay considerable expenses to restore the ancient church and the annexes. A short time later, in September 1802, the Foglianti of Vercelli were also suppressed and they left the city, never to return.


I foglianti a Santa Maria di Testona (1614-1814)
Claudio Anselmo

This essay describes the presence – over two centuries – of the Foglianti in Santa Maria di Testona. In 1614 Francesco Vagnone, Lord of Castelvecchio, raised a Monastery that he would then entrust to a new religious family – the Foglianti – in full expansion at the time with the support of the Dukes of Savoy. The first monks settled in the hamlet of Testona, near Moncalieri, having in concession the ancient Romanesque church of Santa Maria. After a growth in the number of monks and novices, in 1708 the General Chapter elevated Testona from priorate to abbey. Later, in 1734, the monastery church was endowed with a new elegant baroque façade. In the meantime, according to the various accounts of visitors, the Foglianti were often guilty of neglectfulness towards the Rules. In fact, during the Revolutionary period some monks from Testona took part in the Jacobin movement. After the Restoration in 1814 the monastery and church were handed over to the management of the Capuchin monks, bringing to an end the presence of the Foglianti in Testona.


I foglianti a Santa Maria di Testona (1614-1814)
Claudio Anselmo

This essay describes the presence – over two centuries – of the Foglianti in Santa Maria di Testona. In 1614 Francesco Vagnone, Lord of Castelvecchio, raised a Monastery that he would then entrust to a new religious family – the Foglianti – in full expansion at the time with the support of the Dukes of Savoy. The first monks settled in the hamlet of Testona, near Moncalieri, having in concession the ancient Romanesque church of Santa Maria. After a growth in the number of monks and novices, in 1708 the General Chapter elevated Testona from priorate to abbey. Later, in 1734, the monastery church was endowed with a new elegant baroque façade. In the meantime, according to the various accounts of visitors, the Foglianti were often guilty of neglectfulness towards the Rules. In fact, during the Revolutionary period some monks from Testona took part in the Jacobin movement. After the Restoration in 1814 the monastery and church were handed over to the management of the Capuchin monks, bringing to an end the presence of the Foglianti in Testona.


I «frati della buona vita». I monaci cistercensi riformati di San Bernardo e il santuario di Mondovì a Vico: una difficile convivenza
Giancarlo Comino

In a village near Mondovì (Cuneo) in 1595, there was a surge in devotion to the Madonna following the miraculous vision of a local hunter in front of a shrine (pilone). Immediately work began on the construction of a magnificent church and annexed monastery, and the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emanuel I, called the Cistercian reformed monks of Saint Bernard (Foglianti), who arrived from Rome. The latter also replaced the Jesuits in becoming the confessors of pilgrims who went to pray and offer their devotion. However, their permanence at Vico was marked by conflicts and misunderstandings with the sanctuary civil administration, especially during the XVIII century, until the order was suppressed by the French government in 1802. Filippo Malabaila was one of the monks who wrote the story of the devotion to the Madonna di Vico in the 17th century, but the most famous was abbot Giovanni Bona (1609-1674).


Le monache cistercensi nella Germania centrale del tardo medioevo
Jörg Voigt

This article offers an overview of the female Cistercian monasteries in Central Germany in the late Middle Ages. In this region, which roughly corresponds with the present-day federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Thuringia, female Cistercianism was particularly prominent at that time. The reasons for founding such a high number of monasteries, some of which were established particularly early, will be discussed further on in this paper. In addition to the general lines of development, those monasteries that were centres of mysticism in the late 13th and early 14th centuries will be looked at more closely. One example is the monastery of Helfta, where the widely known mystics Mechthild of Magdeburg, Mechthild of Hackeborn or Gertrud of Helfta lived during that period.


I cistercensi foglianti e le abbazie medievali: interventi architettonici a Staffarda e Novalesa
Silvia Beltramo

Many of Piedmont’s most important medieval religious buildings have been restored in modern times, and this has significantly modified parts of the monasteries. Many of these, originally built to house monastic communities, were chosen for the settlement of new congregations, such as the Foglianti monks. The pre-existence of the church and the parts of the building reserved for the monks ensured that the main liturgical and cenobitic activities could be carried out right from the start, even after considerable reconstruction and restoration work. An important milestone was marked at the beginning of the 18th century with the policy implemented by Vittorio Amedeo II and with the opening of architectural sites of central importance, led by a group of technicians which included Tommaso Sevalle, Giovan Giulio Bertola and Carlo Gerolamo Re, under the direction of Antonio Bertola. This essay focuses on two of these buildings, the abbeys of Staffarda and Novalesa.


Città, architettura e identità di corte: strategie per un ordine cistercense riformato
Cristina Cuneo

In Turin, capital city of the early modern age in the Savoy state, the religious presence of the Foglianti orders had a strong political role, following the new needs of the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent. Starting from the settlement of new religious or reformed orders, the city and its surrounding areas underwent architectural and urban changes. As a consequence, a new pattern emerged in its demography, land-use and real estate. Some of the orders were marked by discipline and rigour in their daily behaviour, inspired by the austerity of their origins, which may have influenced the choice of where to position churches, monasteries and convents. As a consequence, the shape of the city changed. The reformed Cistercian order of saint Bernard is a perfect example of this phenomenon and the Congregation of the Foglianti in Savoy Piedmont had a strong link with the new developing court. This essay will discuss the case studies of the Foglianti settlements in the Santuario della Consolata (Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation) and the royal chapel of Mirafiori in Turin, and Sanctuary of the Nativity of Mary Most Holy in Vicoforte.


La chiesa dell’abbazia di Santa Maria di Pinerolo: i cantieri del XVIII secolo tra conoscenza e conservazione
Silvia Beltramo, Francesco Novelli

The essay is the result of research on the church of the abbey of Santa Maria of Pinerolo that has led to a significant contribution to existing knowledge of this construction, in particular with regard to the renovations in the modern age when the complex became the site of the Foglianti monks’ community. The abbey today has an architectural configu- ration that is mainly the result of the reconstruction work started in the first quarter of the 18th century under the direction of the chief engineer Antonio Bertola. The church underwent restoration in the early 2000s, which focused on solving serious structural problems, as well as preserving the decorative elements of the chapels. Studies on the abbey have progressed thanks to a combination of archival sources, largely known but more thoroughly dealt with here, and a detailed architectural survey and analysis of the material components of the buildings which enabled the identification of the various phases of transformation. The uncovering of substantial fragments of the original masonry have led to a reviewed reconstructive hypotheses of existing historiography.


Case da reddito dei foglianti a Torino in età moderna
Edoardo Piccoli

The text analyses reformed Cistercian real estate property in eighteenth-century Turin, with original data stemming from a variety of archival sources, including one on the 1748 tax on religious immunities (Sussidio) in Piedmont, and the archives of La Consolata monastery in Turin. The first part of the paper provides an overview on the 1748 Sussidio ecclesiastico, and examines the general situation of the involvement of male religious orders in urban property (rental housing). The second part of the paper deals with the role of the Cistercians in rental property in Turin. Three monasteries of this order owned rental houses in the State capital, and two of them (monasteries of Asti and Turin) were involved in complex management issues and reconstruction projects in the middle decades of the 18th century. The third and last part of this paper considers the specific localization of rental housing of La Consolata (Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation) in Turin, and its legitimation strategies.


Patrimoni foglianti nel Piemonte del secolo XVIII
Marco Battistoni

The Foglianti first settled in Turin in 1589. By the 18th century, they had the largest number of monastic communities in the states of the duke of Savoy, as well as having accumulated vast economic resources over the years. In addition to receiving generous donations and bequests from powerful benefactors, thanks to the favour of the Pope and the ruling Duke, they were granted monasteries and properties belonging to much older religious communities that had been dramatically shrinking or whose lifestyle was no longer in accordance with the more stringent rules of the post Trent Council Church. Although diverse in terms of dimension and composition of their patrimonies, Feuillant communities did not live passively off their inherited wealth, but mostly applied themselves to increasing the profitability of their rural estates, while a few favoured heavy investment in urban property.


I cistercensi foglianti e l’opposizione a François de Sales
Bruno Farinelli

This article aims to analyse the opposition to the Salesian reform projects through the ties between François de Sales and the Feuillants, the Cistercian branch reformed by Jean de La Barrière. Francois de Sales was appointed Bishop of Geneva-Annecy in 1602, and until his death in 1622 the monastic reform was his primary concern. The Cistercian Congregation of the Foglianti was one of the key orders recognised by the Bishop as instrumental in reshaping the monastic geography of his diocese. These efforts provoked the reaction of the Bishop’s opponents and competitors who tried to limit or stop Francois de Sales’ plans. A reaction that came both from within the court of Turin and Rome and from within the diocese itself and aimed at delegitimizing the Bishop and his actions. Attempts which Francois de Sales did not hesitate to oppose up to the last months of his life, when he chaired the General Chapter of the Congregation at Pinerolo.


Les feuillants du duché de Savoie face aux défis du XVIIIe siècle
Frédéric Meyer

In the kingdom of Sardinia during the Ancien Régime, two monasteries belonged to the Foglianti in the Duchy of Savoy: Abondance (in Chablais, south-east of Évian and Lake Geneva) and Lémenc (on the suburb of Chambéry). The members of the congregation had taken over these two houses at the beginning of the seventeenth century, relocating Augustinian regular canons to Abondance and Benedictines to the abbey of Ainay (at Lyon) at Lémenc. However, in the eighteenth century, both society and the State started questioning their existence: both monasteries were accused of failing to observe the Benedictine rule and of failing to serve the parishes entrusted to them. The hostility of the Bishops led to the suppression of the abbey of Abondance at the beginning of the 1760’s and the weakening of the abbey of Lémenc in the 1780s, even before the French invasion and the Revolution in 1792.


I foglianti in Piemonte nel triennio giacobino
Gianpaolo Fassino

This essay aims to contribute to the history of the Piedmontese Foglianti monks during the difficult three-year Jacobin period and the 15 years of Napoleonic rule that followed. Analysis of the names on lists of Piedmontese revolutionaries compared with the list of Jacobin priests arrested in 1799 and interned in the fortress of Verrua Savoia, show that 16 were Foglianti. All adhered–in different ways–to the ideals of the French Revolution and were associated with all of the principal monasteries of the Congregation: the Consolata in Turin, Novalesa, Abbadia Alpina, Testona, Vicoforte and Asti. In particular, active involvement in the revolutionary municipality of Moncalieri by a well-defined group of five Foglianti monks from the monastery of Santa Maria of Testona has been reconstructed.


La ricostruzione di un ordine soppresso nel Piemonte della Restaurazione
Andrea Pennini

In 1802 before the French suppressions, the Foglianti rejoined the Cistercians and the order was never reformed. Nevertheless, the surviving Cistercians managed to rebuild some coenobitic communities in Piedmont during the reign of Victor Emmanuel I (Consolata, Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation in Turin, Sanctuary of the Nativity of Mary Most Holy in Vicoforte and the monastery of St. Maurice in Santo Stefano Belbo). This paper aims to offer an essential review of this reconstruction process, taking into account the actions of the Sardinian government. This paper is organized in three parts: firstly, it focuses on the events of the end of 18th century; secondly, the paper discusses the Sardinian government inquiry on the conditions of the convents and monasteries that once belonged to the regular orders, with particular attention to the Cistercians and the last part of the text focuses on the reconstruction attempts of the Cistercians communities in the Piedmont of the Restoration.


Un fogliante fra cultura religiosa, polemica erudita e orgoglio civico: Andrea Rossotto (1609-1667)
Paolo Cozzo

The monk Andrea Rossotto from Mondovì (1609-1667) was one of the most significant figures of 17th-century reformed Cistercian culture. He was a prolific author of hagiographic writings and moral works. In his book Peripetie della corte, he described the changing fortunes of powerful men in every age. His best-known work was the large bibliographical repertoire Syllabus Scriptorum Pedemontii, which another clergyman, Francesco Agostino Della Chiesa from Saluzzo, criticized as plagiarizing his earlier Catalogue of Piedmontese writers. The fierce controversy between Rossotto and Della Chiesa, motivated in part by mutual insults against their hometowns (Mondovì and Saluzzo) not only testifies to the vitality of the erudite debate, but also reveals how vigorously representatives of urban patricians in Sabaudian Piedmont maintained a sense of civic pride.


Carlo Giuseppe Morozzo, storico dei cistercensi foglianti e vescovo di Saluzzo
Mario Riberi

The essay examines the figure and the religious career of the Bishop of Saluzzo, Carlo Giuseppe Morozzo, historian of the Cistercian Foglianti and author of numerous and remarka- ble volumes. Carlo Giuseppe Morozzo was born in Mondovì in 1644-1645. He entered the Cistercian order at a young age and studied philosophy, theology, and rhetoric. The- se cultural interests played a significant role in his books and especially in his history of Cistercian Foglianti (Cistercii reflorescentis seu congregationis cistercio-monasticarum, 1690). He followed Cardinal Bona, his protector, to Rome. Upon Bona’s death (1674), he assumed increasingly important roles for his order: prior to the monastery of Asti, he was Abbot at the Consolata, Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation in Turin and apostolic superintendent of Civitavecchia, Imola and Bagnorea. On January 27, 1698, he became Bishop of Saluzzo where he had an intense pastoral activity. He died on March 14, 1729 in Saluzzo, honoured with a funeral monument in his cathedral.


«Pro conservatione iurium et scripturarum ipsius prioratus». Le carte dei foglianti nell’Archivio di Stato di Torino: il caso del monastero torinese della Consolata
Luisa Clotilde Gentile

The survival of the Foglianti documentation among the various archival fonds of the Royal Archives – today known as the Turin State Archives – can only be understood by bearing in mind the governmental needs of the Sardinian monarchy, its vision of the state-church relationship and the various institutions that interpreted it. The archival fond of the important Turin monastery of the Consolata is an example of a source that was partly dispersed by the Napoleonic suppressions, and which was received due to the cultural policy of the Sardinian kingdom in the mid-nineteenth century. Valuable information on the organization and consistency of the archive itself is provided by the 1705 inventory of the monastery archive, when compared with surviving documents. Moreover, the inventory shows how the Foglianti conceived the protection of their interests in their dealings with the prince, the élites, the city and other ecclesial realities.


Tra azione e contemplazione: le biblioteche dei foglianti a Roma
Enrico Pio Ardolino

Like all the most important religious orders of the modern age, the Italian Congregation of the Foglianti also adopted specific legislation with regard to their libraries, awarding an educational and formative value to books and reading. It is in Rome, the city of the popes, that the most important Italian Foglianti libraries are located, which in the 17th century went through their golden period. The paper focuses on the creation and development of the most important Roman Foglianti libraries: those of the monasteries of Santa Pudenziana, San Bernardo alle Terme and San Sebastiano alle catacombe.


Una biblioteca fogliante tra Piemonte e Francia. Il patrimonio librario dell’abbazia di Santa Maria di Pinerolo
Marco Fratini

The history of the abbey of Santa Maria di Pinerolo, situated in a political and confessional frontier at the opening of an Alpine valley in western Piedmont, has been long characterised by its relationship with the development of the power of the dukes of Savoy, its proximity to the Kingdom of France and the deep-rooted presence of Waldensian communities. At the time of the arrival of the Foglianti at the end of the 16th century, its book collection was radically renewed, strongly influenced by the new abbey government. The study of the records produced by the Congregation of the Index provides an opportunity to understand the cultural shift that the succession of a new component within the Cistercian religious order, together with the changes imposed by the dictates of ecclesiastical policy, could introduce in the history of a monastic institution.


Itinerari cistercensi foglianti nel Piemonte sabaudo: le architetture
Ilaria Papa

The construction of the repertoire of the Foglianti settlements in Savoy Piedmont was founded in order to survey the rich architectural and urban heritage that the sub-alpine region preserves. The aim of this paper is to analyse the monastic complexes from the historical and architectural point of view, through the study of the historical building sites and the construction phases from the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 19th. The architectural investigations of the sites are based on the results of the most recent research on the analysis of the constructions and of the primary and secondary sources. The iconographic records and the images proposed in the text have been criti- cally selected according to criteria strictly related to architectural issues, with the aim of reconstructing and describing the design choices, the chronological sequence of the works and the conservation of the sites.

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