The Abbey of Montecassino, founded by Saint Benedict in 529, is one of the symbols of European civilisation. Built on an isolated and impregnable hill, it was for centuries a bulwark of the Christian faith and a model for all monasteries in the West.

The ‘Rule of Monks’ written by Benedict managed to penetrate and evangelise much of Europe. Although the saint, proclaimed “Patron of Europe” by Paul VI on 24 October 1964, could not bring political unity to Europe, he was able to spread a set of values that became common to the peoples of Europe. In its thousand-year history, the abbey has suffered four destructions, but the history of the 20th century has inextricably linked its name with one of the fiercest battles of the Second World War, which saw it destroyed for the last time.

From 10 September, the date of the first bombardment of Cassino, there was no respite in the war throughout the territory. The Allied forces, who had landed in Sicily on 9 July 1943, began to advance up the peninsula, bombing the German-occupied territory without interruption. The target was Rome. However, after taking Salerno and Naples, the German army engaged the American army in a long battle that allowed it to strengthen its defensive lines: the Reinhard line, from the Sangro river to Garigliano; the Gustav line, based on the Garigliano river and Monte Cassino; the Hitler line, which connected Ponza to Naples.

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