The Moscheta Abbey was founded by Saint John Gualberto in 1034.
The name Moscheta derives from the area in which the abbey was built, know in ancient times as Mons Ischetus, “mountain of the ischetus”, sweet oak plant, pedunculate oak, which later was shortened to Moscheta.
Saint John Gualberto, who had a numerous community of trustworthy followers, decided to set out on foot from Vallombrosa, his first abbey, in search of a place to found another one. Count Anselmo da Pietramala learned about this journey and offered him one mile of woodland in the area of Moscheta. Saint John Gualberto accepted the offer and entrusted Rodolfo Galigai, his successor in the Vallumbrosan order, with the construction of the abbey of Moscheta.
The symbols of Moscheta
At the entrance of the cloister, we can still see the reproduction of the lunette in sandstone with the symbols of Moscheta: Saint Peter, the pedunculate oak tree, and the porcupine; they represent the spiritual, animal and plant world. Saint John Gualberto dedicated the abbey to Saint Peter, emblem of his fight against simony and the riches of the clergy. It was Saint Peter, in fact, who defeated Simon Magus, the first to sell posts in the church. For the plant world Saint John chose the pedunculate oak tree, Ischetus, which gave the location its name, and is also known as sweet oak because the acorns are sweet; the mountain folk made coffee from it.
The porcupine is the symbol of solemnity, the isolated lifestyle of the monks: it is represented with its quills lowered, possibly in sign of the inevitable domestication of the monks, or perhaps as a sign of their peaceful coexistence, given the silence and isolation of the abbey.
The construction of Moscheta
Historical accounts state that in the years that followed the founding of Moscheta, it underwent two miraculous destruction by two natural processes: water and fire.
The first event took place when the Vacchile River, which flows next to the abbey, caused a landslide that buried the new abbey. The water, it is said, was sent by Saint John Gaulberto who, on returning to Moscheta after two years, discovered luxurious furnishings and monks who did not observe the principals of sobriety of the order.
The abbey was rebuilt with the same stones, but some years later, according to legend, Divine intervention punished the monks again with fire, the traces of which can still be seen today. In this second case the monks had accepted the inheritance of a rich man that had donated his entire estate to the abbey on his deathbed, cutting out his own relatives.