Nonantola Abbey

Also known as

  • San Sylvester de Nonantula



Former Benedictine monastery and prelature nullius, six miles north-east of Modena, Italy. Richly endowed at its founding by King Aistulph of the Lombards. Pope Stephen III appointed Saint Anselm as its first abbot, and presented the relics of Pope Saint Sylvester I to the abbey, named in consequence San Sylvester de Nonantula. In 883 the abbey was chosen for the conference between Charles the Fat and Marinus I. An imperial monastery, its discipline often suffered due to imperial interference in the election of abbots. Its leaders sided with the emperor in the Investiture controversy until forced to submit to the pope by Mathilda of Tuscany in 1083; the house finally openly declared for the pope in 1111. The decline of the monastery began in 1419 when it came under the jurisdiction of commendatory abbots. In 1514 it was taken over by the Cistercians, but continued to decline, and was finally suppressed by Pope Clement XIII in 1768. Pope Pius VII restored it on 23 January 1821, with the provision that the prelature nullius attached to it should belong to the Archbishop of Modena. In 1866 it was appropriated by the government of Italy and ceased to function as an abbey. Today the city hall of Nonantola uses part of the buildings, as does the Benedictine Nonantolan and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Nonantola Abbey”. Gazetteer of the Faith. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 April 2010. Web. 16 October 2021. <>