Monastery of Saint Benedict
A Subiaco treasure
Benedict of Norcia (480-547 AD) came to Subiaco from Rome. For three years, he lived as a hermit in a cave above the ruins of Nero's villa. He went on to establish twelve monastic communities at Subiaco, and spent 30 years there. Later, he founded the Abbey of Montecassino, and wrote the Rule of Saint Benedict, a guide for monastic life still used today.
The Monastery of Saint Benedict is built above the cave--the Sacro Speco--where Benedict lived. The still-vibrant frescoes of the two churches of the monastery date from as early as the 13th century. They depict scenes from the Old Testament, Gospels and Benedictine saints.
In 1203, Pope Innocent III granted papal privileges to the Sacro Speco Sanctuary.
Fine marble everywhere, some taken from Nero's villa, just down the hill
St Scholastica's wish
The Sacro Speco is lit by twelve lamps, one for each community founded near Subiaco.
The churches are built atop one another, with the oldest at lower levels. Down several flights of stairs, a grotto holds a priceless 13th-century portrait of Saint Francis, painted in his lifetime.
We visited Subiaco on a five-day walk along Il Cammino de San Benedetto, one of the recently launched Italian Wonder Ways. Departing the monastery in the late afternoon, we were gifted with a spectacular sunset.
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