SERRA SAN QUIRICO
Abbazia di S. Elena
San Romualdo had a special relationship with the Umbro-Marchigiano Apennines to the point of choosing as his hermitage a cave on Mount Cucco in the territory of Scheggia.
It must have been a restless spirit and often wandering around the area if, about in the year 1005, it founded the abbey of Sant'Elena in Serra San Quirico (and also - probably - the nearby Abbey of Fonte Avellana).
No doubt he was a great traveler.
He lived between 950 and 1027.
Originally from Ravenna we find him first monk in S. Apollinare in Classe, then hermit in the Venetian lagoon, then in Spain in the abbey of San Michele di Cuxa (where he escapes from the Veneto in the company of Doge Orseolo), then - returned to Italy in 988 - we find him in Ravenna and then in Verghereto from where, because of his continuous disciplinary and moral references to the monks, he was hunted in vergate together with his disciples.
In the year 1001 he was persuaded by the emperor Otto III to become abbot of S. Apollinare but it was not made for the sedentary life: we still find him Montecassino, in Porec in Istria then finally at the Hermitage of Camaldoli.
A decidedly intense life!
Since its foundation, the abbey of Sant'Elena grew in importance up to the end of the 12th century, managing about 50 churches.
Then the monks made the choice to stand on the side of Frederick II (when he was already struck by excommunication) in the clash between Frederick and the Pope. And when those territories returned under papal power the abbey was downgraded to a simple property of the Della Rovere.
The church with three naves remains to recall the importance of the place in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Not much of the original decoration remains: only the portal and some capitals where the double-sided sirens have survived the difficult times.