At the Final Monastery: Monte Cassino

Dispatch #10 from Sr. Bobbi!

Today was our journey to Monte Cassino about 70 miles outside Rome. It is quite a magnificent view both traveling up the mountain and looking down from the top.

Monte Cassino is well-preserved and is a mighty fortress of a monastery. 20 monks live there but – aside from an elderly monk helping in the gift shop – I didn’t see anything about their community. Our guide was an Italian woman.

The monastery felt more like a monument to Benedict and less like the home of a community of monks.  The cell of Benedict was very well restored with frecoes of his life. We sang and prayed there. The church of Benedict was huge and ornate. Not especially warm to me. The burial crypt was smaller and very well restored, too. The altar was the centerpiece with the tomb of Benedict to the left and Scholastica to the right.

I appreciate Monte Cassino as a more formal monastery, and can easily imagine ancient monks toiling in the Scriptorium – writing documents – as well as Benedict refining his rule. The incredible view must have inspired prayer and awe easily.

However, Norcia and Subiaco left more of an impression as a home atmosphere. Less formal at Subiaco but more where Benedict lived. It was equally easy to imagine Benedict and Scholastica staying at their family villa where the church of St. Scholastica is.

All are holy places for Benedictines. It is just overwhwlming to see them myself after 1500 years! Browse the new pictures!

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