- John A. Emerson
- , revised by David Hiley
Site of the former Benedictine monastery of S Silvestro in the Lombard kingdom outside Modena. With Monte Cassino, it was one of the most important monastic centres of medieval Italy.
Nonantola was founded about 752 by St Anselm of Nonantola, formerly Duke of Friuli, and endowed by Aistulf, King of the Lombards (reigned 749–56). In 753 the oratory and altar were consecrated to SS Peter and Paul by Sergius, Archbishop of Ravenna, and shortly afterwards Anselm was appointed the first abbot by Pope Stephen II. In 756 the relics of Pope Sylvester I (reigned 314–35) were transferred from Rome to Nonantola, and the abbey received its present dedication.
Anselm spent the period from 760/61 to 773, during the reign of Desiderius, Aistulf’s successor, in exile at Monte Cassino. In 774 he returned with a number of manuscripts which formed the nucleus of the important medieval library at Nonantola. Anselm died in 803 and was buried in the church; he was succeeded by a number of Lombard abbots with Germanic names. In 885 the body of Pope Adrian III (reigned 884–5) was buried at the abbey. After a major fire, a reconstruction of the church of S Silvestro was begun in ...