The Abbey of Maguzzano stands on a morainic hill in the Municipality of Lonato, from which there is a picturesque view of Lake Garda and of the surrounding hills and mountains.

The abbey has a millenarian history characterised by a succession of flourishing times and moments of decadence and abandonment, from which, however, it always managed to revive.


The current architectural complex, next to the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, was built in 1493-96 by the Benedictine monks of Abbey of Polirone in San Benedetto Po (Mantua). However, its origin is much older. In fact, the first Benedictine abbey dates back to the 9th century and stood near the Via Gallica, the important Roman road that connected Turin with Aquileia. This small abbey was destroyed in 922 by the Huns-Hungarians from Eastern Europe, but was soon rebuilt by the Bishop of Verona, Raterio, who recognised its importance. Since then the Benedictine monks, together with settlers, began a great work of improvement of the territory by reclaiming the marshes, building canals and expanding the cultivable area. The properties of the abbey were extended to the surrounding area and the abbey was organised as a small fief that promoted progress and rural development. At its head was the abbot.


After the year 1000, the fief became a free monastic commune.


In the period from the 14th century to the first half of the 15th century, the territory around the abbey was the site of frequent battles and raids by the troops of the neighbouring powers: the Scaligeri of Verona, the Gonzaga of Mantua and the Visconti of Milan. The year 1339 was particularly tragic due to the devastation caused by the troops under the command of Lodrisio Visconti. The abbey was abandoned and the monks moved to the fortified village of Lonato.


In the 15th century the monastic territory passed to the Republic of Venice. In 1491 the abbey was officially entrusted to the Abbey of Polirone and rebuilt almost from the foundations and adorned with the beautiful Renaissance church and elegant cloister. Its life continued uninterruptedly in a period of relative peace until the end of the 18th century, becoming a monastic environment with a strong humanistic imprint, increasingly important and richer, including works of art of great value. Over the centuries it hosted numerous illustrious and far-sighted figures, politicians, cardinals, writers and poets. Among them was Cardinal Reginald Pole, who in 1553 carried out an intense diplomatic activity in the abbey for the return of England to the Church of Rome.


In 1797 General Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the Austrians and became master of the territory with the Treaty of Campoformio. In order to bear the costs of the war, he issued a decree in Mantua to suppress most of the religious properties in the conquered territory. The abbey, emptied of much of its wealth, passed into private ownership and went through a period of total abandonment and desolation until the beginning of the 20th century.


In 1904, the abbey was bought by a community of 85 French Cistercian Trappist monks from Algeria, who made it flourish again with the resumption of the activities by numerous local farming families. For various reasons, in 1938 the monks decided to sell it and to retire to the abbey of Notre Dame d’Aiguebelle in France.


Giovanni Calabria, a priest from Verona, founder of the Congregation of the Poor Servants and Poor Servant Sisters of Divine Providence, later canonised in 1999, learned of their intention to sell it and was inspired to buy it in order to make it into a welcoming community for the reunification of separated Christian brothers and sisters, a centre of help for priests in difficulty and for poor children. His wish was fulfilled thanks to the generosity of two wealthy sisters from Lonato.


Today, the abbey continues to live and work as a house of spirituality and an ecumenical centre for inter-religious dialogue.