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San Giulio Island

Cloistered nuns masters in restauration

The Mater Ecclesiae is an abbey of cloistered Benedictine nuns located on San Giulio Island, on the Lake Orta. Originally, only six nuns from Viboldone abbey went to live there in 1973. Their prioress was Anna Maria Canopi, author of several books on spirituality and widely considered as the most prominent living female figure in the Catholic Church. At present, over seventy nuns live in the abbey testifying to the vitality of the religious order and the power of an extreme choice, which might appear as a countertrend compared to the lack of vocation within the clergy.
All the nuns in the abbey are very well-read and aim at keeping alive the tradition of Guglielmo da Volpiano, who was born on San Giulio Island in 962 and strongly contributed to the spread of monasticism throughout Europe. In the abbey the nuns carry out research on ancient manuscripts and translate them. Moreover, restoration of ancient fabrics (tapestries, vestments and furniture) is one of their main activities marked by professionalism, together with their commitment to the study of those same textiles.

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