Book Series Disciplina Monastica, vol. 2

Walls and Memory: The Abbey of San Sebastiano at Alatri (Lazio), from Late Roman Monastery to Renaissance Villa and Beyond

Elizabeth Fentress, Caroline J. Goodson, Margaret L. Laird, Stephanie C. Leone

  • Pages: 445 p.
  • Size:210 x 270 mm
  • Illustrations:132 b/w, 15 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2005

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-51577-9
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56657-3
  • E-book
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“... the contributors succeed in producing a comprehensive overview that is as readable as it is rich in information and descriptive detail. The diversity and varied expertise of its authors is surely one of the volume's great strengths, ... For the quality and exhaustiveness of its architectural documentation alone, the study of Fentress et. al. will long remain the standard reference work on the topography of S. Sebastiano, and a valuable addition to the shelf of anyone interested in the growing field of scholarship on 'monastic space.' Moreover, it is in many respects a model for what an architectural publication should be, with its detailed recording and diagramming of all standing remains, its diachronic focus and its 'archaeological' emphasis on establishing chronological relationships between all building phases and 'structural stratigraphic units,' as well as its success in placing the principal subject within its broader spatial and environmental contexts.”

(H. Dey, in The Medieval Review, 06.09.15)

"This study is clearly written and beautifully presented. (...). There is a mass of documentation in the appendices.

(D. Andrews, in Antiquity, 80, n. 308, June 2006, p. 484)

"Ce volume, d'une perfection matérielle remarquable, rassemble les compétences d'archéologues, d'historiens de l'art et d'historiens, provenant notamment de l'American Academy in Rome, et comble parfaitement cette lacune en restituant l'évolution et la signification de ce monument fascinant tout en proposant fréquemment des leçons plus générales ou de méthode."

(P.-Y. Le Pogam, in Revu de l'art, 152, 2006, p. 75)


The abbey of San Sebastiano, which lies not far from the town of Alatri in Southern Lazio, preserves within its walls almost fifteen hundred years of history. This history is unusually bound to a number of important figures, from Saint Benedict to Pope Nicholas V and his circle of humanists. For the past four years a small team has been investigating the standing structures of the abbey, analyzing the stratigraphy of the standing walls and tracing the various phases through the building.  The study has produced some startling discoveries: the plan and preserved walls of one of the oldest monasteries in Europe, and one of the earliest Renaissance villas. The book gives an account of the architecture and the history of the building, showing how each phase relates to the last both structurally and thematically.

The project was initiated at the American Academy in Rome, where Elizabeth Fentress was Andrew Mellon Professor, and Caroline Goodson, Margaret L. Laird and Stephanie C. Leone were Fellows. Margaret Laird and Stephanie Leone are now assistant professors at the University of Washington, Seattle and at Boston College. Other contributors include Caroline Bruzelius, Professor of the History of Art at Duke University, Antonio Manfredi, Vatican Library, Serena Romano, Professor of the History of Art at the University of Lausanne, Marco Rossi, director of the Museum of Alatri, and Ingrid Rowland, Andrew Mellon Professor at the American Academy in Rome.