1842 – 1858 | The Origins
The Benedictine Pier Francesco Casaretto is the key figure to understand the cultural climate and the process which would lead to the birth of the Subiaco Congregation. In 1842 Casaretto founded the Monastery of Pegli (Genoa), immediately giving it the character of a monastic renewal based on a return to the original observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. This line of renewal, concretized in 18 Articles, immediately received recognition from the Cassinese Congregation and, in 1846, definitive approval by the Sacred Congregation for Bishops and Religious.
In 1851 Pope Pius IX promoted the erection of the Subiaco Province as part of the Cassinese Congregation. In this Province the Pontiff intended to bring together monasteries that adhered to the principles of renewal proposed by Casaretto, who was in fact nominated Visitor of the new Province in direct dependence on the Holy See.
From 1852 till 1858 Abbot Casaretto filled the role of President of a Cassinese Congregation experiencing strong growth, characterised by an unheard of opening of monasteries abroad: in those years, the following monasteries adhered to the Congregation: New Norcia (Australia); San Giovanni di Parma (Italy); the English mission of Ramsgate and Deal; Santa Maria di Praglia (Italy); San Giorgio Maggiore di Venezia (Italia); Termonde (Belgium); La Pierre-qui-Vire (France); Sant’Ambrogio di Roma (Italy); Montserrat (Spain); the Sacro Speco of Subiaco (Italy).
1867 – 1880 | The separation
In 1867, in order to deal with the difficulties and divergences between the monasteries (mostly regarding observance and formation), Casaretto called a Diet from which began the division of the Congregation. The Subiaco Province in fact assumed the title and rank (on an experimental basis) of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance, and was officially separated from the Cassinese Congregation five years later, in 1872. In 1876, Abbot Casaretto relinquished his role as President.
From 1878 until 1880 a commission composed of three Cardinals (Guidi, Franchi and Mertel) worked towards the revision of the Constitutions of the new Congregation. The restul was the document presented during the General Chapter of 1880 which constituted, in substance, the legislation that remained unchanged until 1959, although from the years after the Second World War the need for a revision was seen in view of the constant expansion of the Congregation.
1946 – 2013 | The Contemporary Period
From 1946 onwards work was undertaken to update and rationalise the juridical norms, which led to the changing of the name in 1952: then it was that the institute officially assumed the name of Subiaco Congregation, after more than a century from the Subiacan Reform promoted by Casaretto.
From 1966 to 1988 the General Chapters worked towards bringing the legislation into conformity with the directive of the Second Vatican Council; this was an intensive work which involved numerous people over a period of more than twenty years, until finally a renewal that was more like a refoundation took place. By means of this ‘aggiornamento’ two principles, in particular, were introduced into our legislation: one of pluralism in observance at the level of monasteries and provinces; and, second, the principle of subsidiarity in the organs of government; these principles were made necessary because of the level of internationality that the Congregation had reached.
In 2013 the Cassinese Congregation flowed into the Subiaco, giving rise to the new title Subiaco Cassinese and thus bringing about the most numerous and geographically extensive congregation of the Benedictine Order.