Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Monte Cassino – Reconstruction and Remembrance

The Monte Cassino Abbey was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing in February 1944 as part of the second battle of Monte Cassino. Fortunately the Germans had removed most of the valuable manuscripts and artefacts in 1943. They ended up safely stored at the Vatican.

The entrance to the restored Abbey. Still home to about a dozen monks.
The entrance to Monte Cassino Abbey after the battle,

The Allied command believed the Germans were occupying the Abbey and using it as an artillery observation post. The Germans had communicated to the Allies that there was no military personnel in the Abbey. There wasn’t any evidence the Germans were in there, and this was proven correct when the after the bombing the dead consisted of 230 Italian civilians who were sheltering in the Abbey.

The view towards the Liri Valley from the Basilica steps.

The Italian Government paid for the reconstruction of the Monastery which began in the 1950’s and the basilica was consecrated by Pope Paul VI in October 1964. The Monastery was reconstructed as a replica of the original.

The view to the porticos overlooking the Liri Valley.

Today the Monastery again overlooks the town of cassino as it did for centuries before events of 1944. On the outskirts of the town is the Commonwealth War Cemetery that contains the remains of 4271 British and British Commonwealth soldiers who died in the battle.

Monte Cassino Aerial View.

The Cemetery is beautifully maintained and a fitting memorial to those that fell in battle in what was some of the most intense fighting of the whole Italian campaign.

If you are visiting Cassino, please take the time to view the Cemetery and make the journey up the hill to the Monastery. Entry to both sites is free.

Remember the Italian civilians who died. Remember the soldiers from Germany, Poland, India, Nepal, South Africa, Great Britain, The United States of America, New Zealand, France, Algeria, Morocco, and Canada who fought and died in this beautiful part of Italy.

The memorial cross at the Commonwealth Cemetery with Monte Cassino in the background.

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