The first real urbanization took place at the hands of the Romans, who exploited the strategic position of Pontida, located near an important military road that connected Bergamo to Como, the terminal part of the one that connected Friuli with the Rhaetian regions.
The territory was inserted in a militarily turbulent area and at the same time of vital importance for Rome as a military and commercial crossroads towards Europe. Its history is linked to the famous Benedictine abbey dedicated to St. James the Apostle, patron saint of pilgrims and wayfarers, founded by Alberto da Prezzate, a local nobleman, who gave Cluny part of his lands located in Pontida, to build a hospice for travelers and pilgrims. Later a monastery was built, inspired by the rule of Saint Benedict, whose Prior, until the 14th century, played the role of vicar of the Abbot of Cluny for Lombardy.
Located at the foot of Mount Canto and surrounded by vineyards and chestnut groves, this grandiose complex stands out, precisely because of its size, over the entire territory of Pontida. Also known as the Monastery of San Giacomo Maggiore, it is a place rich in history, because it has been the center of economic and cultural life of the entire area since the Middle Ages, becoming one of the most important Cluniac sites. Founded according to Cluniac rule, it is still today a place that preserves the dignity proper to monastic life, which draws on the Rule of St. Benedict, offering hospitality, culture and spirituality.
The origin of the monastery dates back to the 11th century, a fundamental period in the history not only of the Church but of all European civilization. It is the time of the great conflict between the Papacy and the Empire, which goes by the name of “struggle for investitures”. From it the Church, for the energetic impulse of Pope Gregorio VII, will come out purified and renewed, but above all free from the heavy interferences of the lay lords, who had mundanized their existence in the course of the two preceding centuries. In turn, the empire, which came out defeated and reduced by the long struggle, will cease to be that absolute and sacred power that had been until then; this will allow the development of modern national states, the rise of municipal autonomies, especially in northern Italy, and an increasingly clear distinction between the religious sphere and the political sphere.
Damaged several times, first by the Visconti family, then by the French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte, resources to new life in the early 1900s when the Benedictines rebuilt it making it back.
Pontida and its abbey are remembered on all history books for the famous “oath” that took place inside this church on 7 April 1167. In fact the municipal delegates of twenty cities of Italy met there, including Cremona, Bergamo, Mantua, Brescia and Ferrara, who consecrated with the solemn “oath” of Pontida the Lombard League which was to defend the communal liberties against Federico Barbarossa.
Nearby there is the ancient fraction of Odiago, already owned by the Benedictines of S. Giacomo since 1080, a safe haven for those who want to become estranged from traffic and daily stress, to treat themselves to a bit of tranquility that precisely in this seasonal period is immersed in a nature full of colors and natural scents that only spring can emanate.
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