The International Center for Monastic Studies has its headquarters in the ancient monastery of San Giorgio, outside Cividale del Friuli. The monastery still retains the old kitchen, the refectory, part of the portico, some original floors and walls, several gardens and medows.
But the most captivating aspect of the monastery is its church.
The church of San Giorgio in Cividale del Friuli is part of an ancient monastic complex, documented as early as the early 13th century, located outside the walls of the ducal city in the locality of Vado di Rualis. It was initially a female monastery observing the Rule of Saint Augustine suppressed in 1432 by the papal bull of Eugene IV due to the bad reputation and dishonest life of the nuns, passing to the order of the Observant Friars Minor of San Francesco.
The monastic life of the complex ends in the second half of the 18th century when it was suppressed by the Venetian Republic. To document this last conventual phase, there is a cartographic survey dated 27 November 1769, in which the expert of the Serenissima, Giovanni Antonio Pelleatti, measures and designs the entire monastic structure that was about to be put up for sale, then actually sold to the Coceani family in 1796.
The monastic church, with a single hall with presbytery, side chapel (sacristy) and gabled roof, is the best preserved part of the complex, with frescoes dating back to between the 13th and 17th centuries. The first frescoes to be brought to light were those relating to the Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket. The rare iconography, unique in Friuli, has been attributed to an aid very close to Vitale da Bologna, datable to the 14th century.
The wall paintings belonging to the so-called "Second Master of Rualis" belong to the same century and depict: an Annunciation; a very incomplete San Giorgio and the dragon; a Trinity of which only the face of God the Father remains; a Magdalene carried to heaven by angels; an enthroned Madonna with Child and Saints.
Inside a late seventeenth-century altar there is a very high quality fresco of the Madonna of Humility, dating back to the early fifteenth century. Of particular interest is a thirteenth-century Dormitio Virginis (death of the Madonna) located below the layer depicting the Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket and two frescoes, datable between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, of rare German iconography. , the eucharisticher Schmerzensmann (Eucharistic Christ). This is the oldest evidence, ascertained up to now, of the presence of this theme in Friuli.
There are also frescoes in the oratory attached to the church, depicting the Stories of the life of Christ with a Last Supper, dated at the beginning of the 13th century, is now located at the beginning of the 14th century, stylistically close to the frescoes brought to light. on the facade in the summer of 2005, also attributable to the early fourteenth century and depicting a St. George and the princess and a Crucifixion (the frescoed facade is one of the oldest in the Region). Among the corpus of wall paintings there are also some sixteenth and seventeenth-century testimonies, of particular interest the figures of Prophets in the lunettes, attributable to the sixteenth century.
It has three altars, the main one with the statues of San Giorgio and San Francesco, the side ones dedicated to the Madonna del Carmine and the other to the Madonna of the seven pains.
In the presbytery, under the current floor, the apse of the ancient church was brought to light with a cocciopesto floor and the base of the altar. On the side of the south wall of the apse, inside the bell tower, an ancient passage that connected the cloister to the church, the privileged burial used first by the abbesses and then by the minor friars was found. In the chapel adjacent to the church, which was later transformed into a sacristy, a floor in cocciopesto was unearthed, of the same type as the previous one, and also here a base of an ancient altar. There are fragments of the same cocciopesto that are also visible under the floor of the classroom.
A wooden choir and other movable works, paintings on canvas, wooden statues, liturgical apparatus and vestments, complete the treasure contained within this almost millenary casket. Over the years, various studies and research have been carried out on the church and on the history of the monastery complex, which have resulted in publications and graduation theses.