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Abbey of the Holy Trinity
Abbey of the Holy Trinity
Declared a National Monument, the Abbey was one of the most important religious and cultural centres in Southern Italy during the Middle Ages. S. Alferio Pappacarbone, who retreated in 1011 to the Selano Valley, under the large Arsiccia cave, to lead a hermit life there, was encouraged to build a modest-sized monastery with a small church attached as a result of the influx of disciples. S. Pietro Abate (1079-1123) extended and transformed the structure into a multi-nave basilica, taking the Abbey out of the local context and placing it at the head of a large monastic congregation (Ordo Cavensisis). In 1394, Pope Bonificace IX elected it as an episcopal see. In contrast, the present basilica was designed by architect Giovanni del Gaizo on commission from the abbot D. Giulio De Palma in 1761. After the recent covering of the walls and flooring with polychrome marble, the interior has become bright and harmonious. Two chapels remain of the ancient basilica, on the altars of which are valuable reliefs sculpted by Tino da Camaino, commissioned by the abbot and royal councillor Filippo de Haya. As well as these, immediately after the balustrade, we can admire four marble statues, including 16th-century statues of S. Felicita and S. Matteo. On the right of the basilica is the cave chamber of S. Alferio containing the urn with his relics, while on the left is the altar of S. Leone with his urn and other relics of saints. The frescoes in the basilica are the work of the Calabrian painter Vincenzo Morani, who in 1857 painted "S. Alferio in contemplation of the Holy Trinity" on the choir vault, a vision of the Apocalypse in the right transept and the "Resurrection" with prophets and apostles on the left. Also preserved under the 12 altars of the basilica, are the relics of the 12 holy abbots. Alongside the church, you can see the fountain made in 1772 by Tommaso Liguoro. The small cloister, dating back to the 11th-13th centuries, while smaller, is the most interesting part of the abbey. Although it has undergone many alterations, it is reminiscent in its structure of contemporary Amalfi cloisters, those of San Domenico in Salerno and Santa Sofia in Benevento, with horseshoe-shaped arches, which bear witness to Muslim influences. Adjacent to the cloister is the large Chapter Room, dating back to the 13th century, which houses some valuable Roman sarcophagi, attributed to the 3rd century AD. Also, very striking are the rooms, dating back to different periods - built from the 9th-10th centuries with successive renovations in the 12th century - in the basement of the abbey and the small cloister, known as the "Lombard cemetery", used as a cemetery for monks and seculars.