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MONTE CASSINO, an isolated hill overhanging the town of Cassinum, about midway between Rome and Naples. Hither St Benedict migrated from Subiaco in the early years of the 6th century, and established the monastery that became the metropolis of Western monarchism. About 580–590 it was sacked by the Lombards, and the monks fled to Rome, where they were established at the Lateran basilica. The monastery was rebuilt in 720, again destroyed by the Saracens in 884, and restored seventy years later. It reached its highest point of prosperity and influence from 1059 to 1105, under Desiderius (who became Pope Victor III. in 1087) and Oderisius. The abbot became overlord of an extensive territory and bishop of several dioceses: now, though not a bishop, he is ordinary of seven dioceses. At the dissolution of monasteries in 1866 Monte Cassino was spared, owing mainly to a remonstrance by English well-wishers of United Italy. The monastery became a national monument and the monks were recognized as custodians. There is a large secondary school with 250 boys, and rich archives.

See L. Tosti, Storia della badia di M.C. (1841; 2nd ed., 1888); Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchenlexikon (2nd ed.) and Herzog, Realencyklopädie (3rd ed.).  (E. C. B.)