During the Middle Ages, many monks manually copied ancient books so they could be passed on to future generations. Over the years, the invention of the printing press made this work largely obsolete, but thousands of old books remained stored in monasteries.
Many of those volumes lies still today in the library of the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria Assunta of Praglia, an almost 1,000-year-old monastery and maybe one of the most important monumental and religious communities in the area, located in the town of Teolo, only 10 minutes from Abano Terme, and about 12 km from Padua, in Veneto region, Northern Italy.
Founded in 1080, the structure was largely restored or rebuilt multiple times, including in the 1800s, when it served as a barracks and storage depot.
It was flourishing until the Napoleonic suppression in 1810 but in 1834, thanks to the support of the Austrian government, the monks returned to the monastery. The truce was however short: in 1867 all religious corporations were suppressed in the Veneto region, and most of the monks took refuge in the monastery of Dajla in Istria.
They were able to return here only in 1904.
Still today home to over 40 monks, in what is one of the largest Benedictine communities in Italy, as well as old books, a tour of the abbey passes Renaissance paintings and beautiful grounds.
From the suspended cloisters you can reach the loggia where you can admire a breathtaking view of the Euganian Hills and the surrounding countryside.
Like many monastic orders, the monks keep busy: outside of prayer, they engage in beekeeping, wine-making, and more, and many of their wares can be purchased at an on-site shop. The herbal medicine of the monastery is recognized by the State and combines recipes of ancient tradition with modern technology and equipment.
The abbey’s most notable work, though, is in book restoration. It seems that monks have repaired tens of thousands of books, manuscripts, and parchments, including many damaged by floods in Florence and Venice in 1966. Among them, the most ancient geographical map of Italy, popes and emperors letters and more.
Author’s note: official website