Porta dei Conversi, Fossanova

Lay brother's entrance, abbey church of Fossanova, twelfth century

Porta dei Conversi, Fossanova Abbey, twelfth century

Conversi (usually translated as ‘lay brothers’ in English, though that term has fallen out of favor) were members of monastic communities who had taken vows but not received the sacrament of Holy Orders. They were monks who entered monasteries later in life, typically to perform some kind of penance, and were often unlettered peasants. They were responsible for menial labor and sometimes managed secular business for their communities. At Fossanova (and elsewhere) they lived separately from the other monks, and thus had their own entrance to the church.

Tympanum, Porta dei Conversi

Tympanum, Porta dei Conversi

The capitals here show an interesting simplification of the Corinthian order, with a single stylized acanthus leaf appearing at the center of each facet.

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2 responses to “Porta dei Conversi, Fossanova

  1. How interesting that they had a separate entrance to the church because they lived apart from the other monks…
    That acanthus leaf is a beautiful detail.

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