Construction began on the monastery in 1393 and was not completed until 1526, although a number of alterations were carried out on the buildings during the Renaissance and the Baroque periods.
The courtyard of the abbey opens onto a broad avenue of cypresses.
St Benedict instructs the Shepherds by Luca Signorelli
From the Life of St Benedict by Il Sodoma
Part of the Fresco Cycle by Luca Signorelli
The abbey’s large Library comprises no less than 40,000 volumes, pamphlets and parchments that are carefully restored by the monks.
The Library leads to the Pharmacy, which contains an important collection of 18th century spice vases. The abbey still produces honey and distilled herbal spirits made according to these ancient recipes.
The correct name for the monks of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto, who are part of a number of congregations that make up the Benedictine order, is in fact Monaci Benedettini di Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto. Their particular devotion to the Virgin Mary is visible also in their habit, which is white to symbolise purity.
Many visitors come to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto to hear the Gregorian chants still sung by the monks.
The abbey web sites are at:
An article from The Tablet by an Olivetan monk: http://www.wccm.org/item.asp?recordid=frequent1&pagestyle=default :"Monte Oliveto" The Tablet August 10, 2004 by Laurence Freeman.
Laurence Freeman is a monk of the Olivetan Congregation and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org).