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Jerusalem in Acquapendente

· Hypothesis of a new attribution for the most ancient imitation of the Holy Sepulchre in Europe ·

The Holy Sepulchre of Acquapendente, the so-called shrine, is an enigma because it is not yet clear when it was created, by whom and for what reason, nor which building it was trying to imitate.

Was it a certain Matilda who founded the monastery of Acquapendente?

The mother founder Matilda is a legend, given that the four potential candidates do not correspond to the requisite biographical dates. The monastery of the Holy Sepulchre was cited in a papal bull around 1025, two famous Matildas (Matilda di Canossa, Countess of Tuscany 1046-1115; Matilda of the Scots, 1080-1118) were born too late to have founded this monastery. The two German Matildas (the first was the mother of Otto I the Great and the other the sister of Otto II) lived in the right age, the 10th century, but no where is it documented that they founded a religious house in Italy.

And Ugo of Tuscany, who founded monasteries?

It is natural to concentrate our attention on Count Ugo of Tuscany who is known to have founded holy houses and monasteries both with his mother, Willa and on his own.

Towards a new reading of the carta of Count Ugo of 993

The carta of Count Ugo of Tuscany of 993 which was published by Count Paul Riant in 1884, is used by many scholars as evidence of the uninterrupted relations between the Latin West and the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, from the era of Charlemagne until the beginning of the crusades in 1099.

The carta is understood as the donation of large properties, distributed throughout Tuscany, from Ugo to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and also to the monastery of Santa Maria Latina in Jerusalem (which was probably founded by Charlemagne and provided for the needs of Latin pilgrims coming from the west).

We do not find evidence anywhere else of the donation of Ugo to the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, while his donation to Santa Maria Latina is largely documented during the 12th century. The document, however, can also be read in another way.

In the carta of Ugo, it is stated that the donations are allocated to the monks who, from that moment forward, were in Jerusalem and took care of the pilgrims who arrived and left from there: qui nunc et per tempore serviunt monachi in Hierusalem ad opus illorum peregrinorum, qui vadunt et veniunt de Hierusalem ut ipsi inde vivant.

The relationship between Acquapendente and the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem – only from 1326.

Other than the lack of testimony about the donation of Ugo of Tuscany to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, this institute was furnished with canonical rules which were organized as a chapter with a prior, and not as an abbey. So it is difficult to maintain that the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem had institutional ties with a monastery led by an abbot.




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 19, 2020