Monastery of Santa Maria di Rifesi

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Monastery of Santa Maria di Rifesi
Coordinates: 37° 36′ 29.5″ N, 13° 20′ 39.2″ ECoordinates 37° 36′ 29.5″ N, 13° 20′ 39.2″O
Serial number
according to Janauschek
Year established 1170 by Benedictines
cistercian since 1188
Mother Monastery Balamand Monastery
Primary Abbey Morimond Monastery

Subsidiary Monasteries


The monastery of Santa Maria di Rifesi is a former Cistercian monastery near Burgio in Sicily. The former monastery church is now a pilgrimage church.


The monastery was founded in 1170 by one Ansaldo, castellan of Palazzo Reale in Palermo, probably for Benedictines. In 1188, it was rebuilt by Cistercians who came from the monastery of SS. Trinitas de Refech in the Middle East, fleeing Saladin’s advancing troops. In a bull of 1198, confirmed in Palermo in 1271, Pope Innocent III placed the monastery under his protection, confirming possessions and privileges that made the convent virtually independent of the influence of the Bishop of Agrigento. Rifesi was expressly mentioned here as a daughter monastery of Balamand Abbey. No information can be given on the end of the monastic life. The Chiesa Madre of Burgio preserves a Byzantine crucifix which the monks are said to have brought from the Middle East.[1]

Buildings and plant

The monastery church of Santa Maria di Rifesi was built in the Norman Gothic style in austere, simple forms and closes on the east with a flat semicircular apse. The enclosure was located to the south of the church and has been destroyed down to the foundations.


  • Lynn Townsend White: Latin Monasticism in Norman Sicily. The Mediaeval Academy of America, Cambridge MA 1938, pp. 172-177.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Rifesi on