The Augustinians in Cascia

ver time, the presence of Augustinians in Cascia has contributed to shaping the dominant culture and spirituality in the whole area of the Nera Valley. The community of the Convent of St. Augustine was also well respected and held in consideration by the Republic of Cascia as a result of some general and special councils held in the cloister of the monastery or in the Church itself.

The first settlements date back to before 1000, with the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, as well as some Augustinian hermitages scattered here and there throughout the territory. After the Great Union of 1256, which gave rise to the Hermetic Order of St. Augustine, a community of monks is born which, a few years later, comes to number a dozen or so clerics, including the Master in Theology, Bachelors, readers, and clerics of culture. This integrated system suggests the importance of this place for the Augustinians of the Province of Spoleto Valley.

At the outset, the Convent is part the Augustinian Province of Spoleto Valley which, in 1281, consists of 17 communities that are precursors to a prodigious development. The Convent of St. Augustine dominates the hill of Cascia. Certainly, it is already standing in 1281. It is located within the walls of the fortress, in the heart of the town, near the building housing the Capi del Popolo (Heads of the People) and the residence of the Podestà (Mayor). The bell of the Church of St. Augustine is the official clock of the Republic.

Thanks to bequests received that give stability to their economy, the clerics religious construct and expand the convent and the church, incorporated in the chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The chapel has a particular importance in those days, because there is an obligation to confer baptism only in churches or chapels dedicated to St. John the Baptist.In fact, Saint Ritais baptised in this chapel, and this also explains her relationship with the Augustinian clerics, which started as a child.

At the time of Rita, there were three Augustinian settlements in Cascia: the male settlement of St. Augustine and the two female settlements of St. Mary Magdalene and Saint Lucia.

The Augustinian community has always been spiritually and culturally alive. Many are the great figures who have inhabited the Convent of St. Augustine: Blessed Simone of Cascia (1285-1348), Ugolino (1330) and Giovanni da Chiavano (+1350); Andrea Casotti, founder of the hermitage of Our Lady of the Star (1308) and then martyr among the infidels; Nicola Saraceni, Master of Theology, who was Prior Provincial as well as rector of the Centre for Theological Studies in Perugia; Fra Bartolomeo (+1426), Fra Andrea of Cascia, theologian and fiery preacher; and many others.

On 1 October 1358, the Superior General of the Augustinians, Gregory of Rimini, declares that the Province of Spoleto Valley "excels for the gift of God among all the provinces of the Order, both for the multitude of convents and for the number and good life of cleric, as we know from the reports of trustworthy people and because we have seen it ourselves."
In fact, the Province has about 42 convents with more than three hundred clerics.