Thomas of Maurienne (died before 720) was the first abbot of the Abbey of Farfa, which he founded between 680 and c.700. Although the sources of his life are much later, and he is surrounded by legends, his historicity is beyond doubt.
Thomas is said to have hailed from Maurienne, where he was a monk before he travelled to Italy.According to the twelfth-century Chronicon Farfense of Gregory of Catino, Thomas was on a pilgrimage when in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told him to go to Italy and re-establish an abandoned basilica that had been founded in her name. With a small group of disciples and divine guidance, Thomas found the ruins of a basilica in a deserted region in the Sabina. The reliability of this story is thrown in some doubt by the extensive use of topoi, such as the vision, the pilgrimage, the desert and "the reoccupation of an earlier Christian site". It was believed in Thomas's day that the basilica had been founded in the sixth century by a certain Laurence of Syria, about whom nothing concrete is known. The church certainly stands on a terrace excavated in Late Antiquity and archaeological digs by the British School at Rome (1978–85) have uncovered a late antique wall enclosure on the site, although the church itself has not been excavated.
During Thomas's abbacy, three monks from Farfa established the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno. According to San Vincenzo's historian Ambrosius Autpert, in his Chronicon Vulturnense, it was Thomas who directed the monks to "the oratory of Christ's martyr Vincent [where] on each side of the river is a thick forest (silva densissima) which serves as a habitation for wild beasts and a hiding-place for robbers."Also during Thomas's tenure the abbey received a privilege from Pope John VII in 705, which also recognised that the abbey was founded by "Bishop Laurence". This Papal privilege (privilegium) included a confirmation of the abbey's first (undatable) grant of land, from Duke Faroald II of Spoleto. The charter refers only vaguely to lands which were apparently demesne, quoting a letter the Pope had received from Faroald. (Gregory made an effort to identify the extent of this donation by looking to oral sources, and he quoted "very old venerable elders, with true testimony related to them by their predecessors" who equated Faroald's donation to eleven curtes of about 11,000 modia in total. ) Through his donations Faroald claimed to have "restored that place through Abbot Thomas and your [Papal] recommendation (commenditum)", thus placing the initiative in the original land grant with the Pope. Faroald seems to have desired the Pope to confirm—or "strengthen" (firmare) by exercise of his spiritual powers, namely, the "chain of anathema" —Faroald's own conditions of the grant. The Pope went further, he "established and decided" (statuimus et decernimus) that nobody should place any exactions on the abbey and he severely limited the role of the "neighbouring bishop" (vicinum aepiscopum). Thomas was ordered to put the Papal privilege on display.
According to the eleventh-century martyrology of the abbey, the Martyrologium Pharphense, Thomas was buried at the thirtieth milestone, as later was Abbot Hilderic (died 857).Thomas had been succeeded by Aunepert by 720.
Farfa Abbey is a territorial abbey in northern Lazio, central Italy. It is one of the most famous abbeys of Europe. It belongs to the Benedictine Order and is located about 60 km from Rome, in the commune of Fara Sabina, of which it is also a hamlet.
Teuto was the Abbot of Farfa from about 883 until about 888. His abbacy is the first of a string of very unclear ones that cover the years down to 919 at Farfa. He is known to have succeeded Anselm and been succeeded by Nordepert, but little else is certain. The period of his abbacy had already become obscure when Gregory of Catino was chronicling the abbey's history and editing its charters in the late eleventh century.
Guicpert or Wigbert was the Abbot of Farfa for eleven months in 769–70 and probably also the Bishop of Rieti in 778. According to the twelfth-century chronicler of the abbey, Gregory of Catino, Wigbert was an Englishman and already a bishop when he convinced the dying Abbot Alan of Farfa to name him as his successor. From a twelfth-century perspective, Wigbert's accession was invalid because it was not in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict, although that rule was neither strictly nor uniformly enforced at Farfa in the eighth century. Nevertheless, the monks found Wigbert's rule a "tyranny" and sought the king, Desiderius, to remove him and confirm their freedom to elect a successor, which he did.
Wandelbert was the Abbot of Farfa sometime between 757 and 761, one of a series of abbots from Aquitaine. His abbacy coincided with a troubled period in the abbey's history and the stormy reign of Duke Gisulf of Spoleto, who seems to have brought some stability to the abbey by the time of his death.
Ragambald was the Abbot of Farfa from 781 until his death. According to the abbey's twelfth-century historian Gregory of Catino, Ragambald was born in a city in Gaul (Gallia), that is, Francia, but he does not explicitly call him a Frank. Succeeding Probatus, a local-born abbot, Ragambald was the first of a line of abbots from Francia, including Altpert (786–90) and Mauroald (790–802). The significance of the Frankish presence at Farfa and of Ragambald's abbacy is summed up:
.. . the ‘new’ abbeys of the time not only arose under Frankish influence but also infiltrated the religious life of Lombard Italy with ‘Frankish’ ideas and attitudes, providing a kind of ‘fifth column’ that prepared the way for Frankish military victory and a more ready acceptance of Frankish political domination.
Anselm (Zelmo) was the Abbot of Farfa between 881 and 883, succeeding John I. His short abbacy is reasonably well-sourced compared to the string of five abbots following him, beginning with Teuto, who were extremely obscure figures even to Gregory of Catino, the abbey's historian of the eleventh century.
Ingoald was the Abbot of Farfa from 815, succeeding Benedict. At the beginning of his abbacy he vigorously protested the policies of Pope Leo III (795–816), which had resulted in the abbey's loss of property. Ingoald complained about not only the—illegitimate, as he saw it—seizure of Farfa's lands, but also the application of dubious laws of Roman origin in a zone that followed Lombard law. While Ingoald also fostered close contacts with the Carolingian rulers of Francia and Lombardy, he resisted secular encroachments on the abbey's privileges as staunchly as he resisted papal ones. The rate of property transactions at Farfa seems to have peaked under Ingoald, but the surviving documentary evidence is far from complete.
Mauroald was a Frankish monk from Worms and the Abbot of Farfa from 790. Farfa, at less than a century old, was still interested in accruing territories through grants and donations in order to support its building projects and the expansion of its site.
Aunepert was the second Abbot of Farfa, holding office from the death of the monastery's founder, Thomas of Maurienne, until his own death a few years later. Little is known of Aunepert save that he was from Toulouse, then in the Merovingian kingdom of Aquitaine. By 724 he had been succeeded as abbot by Lucerius when Duke Transamund II of Spoleto granted "a church and its lands" to Farfa.
Lucerius was the third Abbot of Farfa, succeeding Aunepert in 724 at the latest. He was originally from Provence and had been raised at Farfa by Thomas of Maurienne, the first abbot. Lucerius' abbacy was a period of growth and expansion on the part of the abbey. In his first year, he received a grant of a church with its (unspecified) lands from Duke Thrasimund II of Spoleto. This church, dedicated to Saint Getulius, lay within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Rieti, and according to the tenth-century Exceptio Relationum Thrasimund had to compensate the bishop for his loss.
Benedict was the Abbot of Farfa, Italy from 802 until his death. He is the first abbot mentioned in the eleventh-century history of the abbey written by Gregory of Catino whose origins were not known.
Hilderic was the fifteenth Abbot of Farfa from 844. In 842 Abbot Sichard died, and the Emperor Lothair I (840–55) intervened to appoint Bishop Peter II of Spoleto in control of the abbey in the interim. Peter organised an election, in which the monks chose Hilderic, and convinced Lothair to confirm him in the abbacy in 844. From his death in 857 the history of the abbey falls into relative obscurity until about 920. The anonymous Libellus constructionis Farfensis, which in its original form was composed in the late ninth century, relates the history of Farfa from its foundation by Thomas of Maurienne down to the death of Hilderic.
Altpert was the Abbot of Farfa from the death of Ragambald in 786 until his own death a few years later. He was described by Gregory of Catino, writing some three centuries later, as having been born in Paris "of the Gauls" (Galliarum), presumably meaning that he was a Romance-speaking subject of the Carolingians. He increased the patronage of the abbey compared to his predecessor, but Farfa was still less successful in seeking out grants and donations than it had been under the local abbot Probatus. Altpert received a donation of lands at Rabenno from Duke Hildeprand of Spoleto, two other donations and one oblation.
Fulcoald was the fourth Abbot of Farfa from 740. In 739 King Liutprand granted Farfa the right of freedom in abbatial elections, but we do not know if Fulcoald was the product of such a free election or not. Like his predecessor, Lucerius, Fulcoald hailed from Aquitaine, then in southern Francia. "With his abbacy, the quantity of our [historical] evidence dramatically increases [and d]evelopments in secular politics can now be seen to impinge on Farfa's land acquisitions." Fulcoald's abbacy can therefore be defined in terms of three objectives that are apparent in the surviving sources: (a) to extend its landholdings and secure its rights to its properties, (b) to promote a strict and disciplined monastic observance, and (c) to "steer as untroubled a course as possible through the choppy waters of Italian politics".
Alan was an Aquitanian scholar, hermit and homilist who served as the sixth Abbot of Farfa in central Italy from 761. Before taking over at Farfa, Alan composed the Homiliarium Alani, "one of the most successful homiliaries of the late eighth and early ninth centuries", traces of which may be found in the liturgical formulae scattered throughout Farfa's eighth-century charters.
Perto was the Abbot of Farfa from 854/7 to 872. Between 857 and 859 he received a privilege from the Emperor Louis II confirming a cella called Santa Maria del Mignone. Since this is the first time Santa Maria is mentioned in Farfa's possession it may have been acquired around this time by Perto. Louis's diploma confirmed privileges granted Farfa by his father, Lothair I, in 840. The imperial diploma forbade any financial imposition on Farfa by any pope or secular ruler. This diploma may have been aimed at courting good relations with the pope or it may be associated with Louis's intervention in the Duchy of Spoleto in 860. In 864 Louis confirmed Farfa's possessions and, at the insistence of Bishop Peter of Spoleto, protector of the abbey since 840, made a donation to it in the region of Massa Torana.
Hugh was the Abbot of Farfa from 998. He founded the abbatial school and wrote its history from the late ninth through the early eleventh century under the title Destructio monasterii Farfensis. A later student of his school, Gregory of Catino, wrote a fuller history of the monastery partly based on Hugh's earlier account.
Probatus was the Abbot of Farfa from 770 until 781, and the first abbot native to the Sabina. He steered the abbey through the fall of the Kingdom of the Lombards, trying to prevent the disastrous aggression of its last king, and kept it from falling under the jurisdiction of either the Papacy or the Papal States. With the benefit of his local connections he oversaw a great expansion of the abbey's properties through grants and purchases, and also rationalised its holdings to create a robust base for an early medieval monastic community.
Gregory of Catino was a monk of the Abbey of Farfa and "one of the most accomplished monastic historians of his age." Gregory died shortly after 1130, possibly in 1133.
The Libellus constructionis Farfensis, often referred to simply as the Constructio in context, is a written history of the Abbey of Farfa from its foundation by Thomas of Maurienne circa 700 until the death of Abbot Hilderic in 857. It is about the "construction" of a powerful abbey with vast landholdings. It was used as a source for two later histories, which are basically continuations: the Destructio monasterii Farfensis of Abbot Hugh and the Chronicon Farfense by Gregory of Catino.