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rage of Vitiges, of Ricimer, and Robert Guiscard. Expansion and contraction—these seem to be the Alpha and Omega in the destruction of such monuments, made, as they are, of porous tufo, and no longer protected by marble coatings or by a strong veneer of stucco. And here the great gaps in its line allow us to follow the more distant monuments that point the Appian Way, from the tomb of Cecilia Metella out past the vast palace of the Quintilii (confiscated by Commodus) to the mediaeval Tor di Mezzavia, rising against the pale blue horizon from its more ancient tomb. It must, however, be confessed that our journey is slow. The distance from Rome to Frascati is about fourteen miles, and in spite of a second engine attached to our train at Ciampino, we occupy one hour in getting thither. But at last we have arrived, and, alighting, we are beset by small boys, who are more than anxious to carry our reticules. Language not strictly polite, but necessary, effects our release, and selecting our path, we at once turn downhill and go southward, away from the white town above us. What a lovely scene greets us! Far off, across the lonely classic plain, Rome is discovered spread out, pearl-white, like a necklace, with S. Peter's for the clasp-pearl, and relieved against the Ciminian Hills, far beyond it, which are shadowed into deep violet; and there, too, is Soracte, majestic, like a proud island, in this historic sea. Eastward the Sabine Hills, enthroning Tivoli, rise up grandly into Monte Gennaro (the ancient Lucretilis), upon which a cloud-burst is spreading its wrath.

But we must not stay to muse over such scenes, nor to pick the first violets there, nor the almond-blossom that opens while the chiff-chaff sings; but we must make quickly for yonder hillock, apparently strewn with 'remains,' the ground about which has evidently been again ploughed. Who knows what archaeological harvest may there await us? The appetite sharpens with every step that we take. It is true we realise that we must have visited the spot before, some years ago, for we have marked it down on our map; but the ground was not then cultivated and turned up, and we found nothing to speak of. But now we become all' eyes,' for the last rain-shower has polished up every fragment of marble, and the character of the materials of the once rich villa, or manor house, of some unknown ancient is made plain. Here is a three-cornered tile of purple 'Africano' marble; there a piece of delicate stucco; there, again, a fluted column; and let us hunt along yonder low wall, so evidently built up of these wondrous materials. Ere many moments have elapsed a fragment of an inscription stamped in oblong form upon a broken brick catches the eye, and, lo I the rest of it is lying close by at the foot of the wall. Brought together, we recognise it to read ' T. Sentidii Prisci' —an early stamp from the form of the letters, say, A.d. 90—and another example is speedily found. We have had our first' kill,' and during a momentary respite we look round and out toward distant Rome, and try and picture to ourselves what manner of splendid villa once crowned this spot, the walls of which must^have been literally ' papered' with these rare foreign marbles and built of these particular bricks. We seem to see the paven courts, the 'impluvium,' the gorgeous colonnades, the gleaming terraces, the sparkling fountains, the fine reservoirs, the slaves at work in the fields, the steward, or villicus, fawned upon by the freedmen; the owner himself leading a group of admiring friends to view his 'nymphaeum,' fresh from the architect-sculptor's hands. But suddenly darkness has clouded round and over us, and beating hail drives us to the nearest shelter, and finally postpones the plan of our main research to another occasion,

[graphic]

"The Roman brigand Gasperone, for many years notorious, has just died In a hospital for the poor at Abbiate Grasso."— Timet, 18th Oct. 1879.

CHAPTER V

GROTTA FERRATA AND MARINO

(This is a pleasant excursion from Rome, and may be taken between two trains from the Frascati station ; or, both Grotta Ferrata and Marino may be visited in driving from Frascati to Albano.)

THE castellated monastery of Grotta Ferrata is about two miles from Frascati on the slopes of the Alban hills, and half a mile from the main road between Marino and Frascati. It is the only Basilian monastery in Central Italy, and its bearded monks perform the service according to the Greek ritual. The story of its foundation is that of S. Nilus.

S. Nilus was a Calabrian Greek, born at Rossano. He did not embrace a religious life till his thirtieth year, when his wife, to whom he was tenderly attached, was dead, and then he became a monk of the Order of S. Basil, and soon was elected abbot of the convent of S. Maria del Patir. Driven by the Saracens from Gaeta, he fled with his brotherhood to Monte Cassino, where the abbot received them kindly, and appointed them a residence in the neighbourhood. While he was here, Aloare, widow of Pandolfo, Prince of Capua, who had incited her two sons to the murder of their cousin, came to S. Nilus to beseech absolution for her crime. He refused, unless she would yield up one of her sons to the family of the murdered man, but she could not make up her mind to the sacrifice, upon which S. Nilus denounced her sin as unforgiven and foretold her punishment. Shortly after, one of the princes was assassinated in a church by his brother, who was himself put to death by order of Hugh Capet, King of France (987-95).

S. Nilus next took up his abode at Rome in the convent of S. Alexis (Aventine), where he wrought many miracles, among others the cure of an epileptic boy. Rome was at this time distracted with internal dissensions, and had been besieged by the Emperor Otho III., who had persuaded Crescentius, Consul of Rome, by his false promises, to deliver up the Castle of S. Angelo, and had there murdered him ; and, putting out the eyes of Pope John XVII., had set up his cousin Gregory V. in his place. S. Nilus alone ventured to oppose the Teutonic marauders, rebuking them as the enemies of God, and writing to the Emperor, ' Because ye have broken faith, and because ye have had no mercy for the vanquished, nor compassion for those who had no longer the power to injure or resist, know that God will avenge the cause of the oppressed, and ye shall both seek for mercy and shall not find it.' He then fled to Gaeta, and afterwards to a cave at the spot now called Grotta Ferrata.

Two years after, Gregory V. died miserably, and Otho, on his knees at Grotta Ferrata, implored the intercession of Nilns, promising a rich endowment for his convent. But his offers were sternly refused by the saint, who said with solemnity, that he asked nothing from him but that he would repent of his sins and save his own soul. In a few weeks, Otho was obliged to flee from the people, and was poisoned by the widow of Crescentius. Nilus had betaken himself in 1004 to the solitudes of Grotta Ferrata because of the certainty of canonisation if he remained at Gaeta. Here, asleep in a grotto, he had a dream of the Virgin, who commanded him to build a church on that spot, placing a golden apple in the foundations, as a pledge of her protection. Nilus built the church, but first placed in the grotto, where he had received the mandate, a picture of the Virgin which he had brought with him from Gaeta, and guarded it with an iron railing, which gave it the name of Grotta Ferrata. S. Nilus died in the same year with Otho, commanding that his burial-place should be concealed, in order that no undue honours might be paid to his remains; but over the cavern where he had lived, his friend and successor Bartolommeo began to raise the church and castellated convent of Grotta Ferrata, in which, in memory of the Greek Nilus, the rule of S. Basil should always be followed, and mass celebrated in the Greek language. The Count of Tusculum protected the work, which rose rapidly, and the church was consecrated by John XIX., only twenty years after the death of its founder. Several of the popes resided here, especially the boy Pope Benedict IX. (nephew of the Count of Tusculum), who had resigned the honours of the Papacy, of which he was most unworthy, in 1033, at the entreaty of the first Abbot, S. Bartholomew. Pope Julius II. (Delia Rovere) had been Abbot here, and began the buildings on which the Rovere oak may still be seen. He, the warlike Pope who commanded at the siege of Mirandola, built, as Abbot, the picturesque fortifications of the monastery. Benedict XIV. ordained that the Abbot, Prior, and Fathers of Grotta Ferrata should always celebrate in the Greek rite. The last Abbot Commendator was Cardinal Consalvi, who renounced the baronial jurisdiction which had hitherto belonged to the abbot in 1816.

Grotta Ferrata, at a distance, looks more like a castle than a monastery. It is surrounded by walls with heavy machicolations and low bastion towers after the manner of San Gallo's work at Ostia. They were built by Julius II. when Cardinal Juliano della Rovere, for whom his uncle, Sixtus IV., gave the place. Within, the greater part of the two courts have been modernised, but the church retains its campanile of the tenth century. In the atrium is a black cross supposed to mark the exact height of Christ, and a model of the golden apple given by the Virgin to S. Nilus and buried in the foundations of the belfry. Over the western 11th-century door (now enclosed) is the inscription:—

oiicov 9<ov p&AotTffs tiirfiaCftif mfAilF,

efoi yevoiade T^s i^e&rls To)v ippovriSoiv,

iv' evlxevius evpoire 70v Kpnylv eirui.

[Ye who would enter here the house of God

Cast out the intoxication of pride and worldly thought

That kindly ye may find the Judge within.]

Above, is an interesting mosaic of 1005, representing the Saviour between the Virgin and S. J. Baptist, with a small standing figure supposed to represent the Abbot S. Bartholomew, one of the companions of S. Nilus. The doors are beautifully carved. At the end of the right aisle is a piece of perforated carving found in the Campagna, and believed to have belonged to a screen between the nave and choir through which the voices of the monks could reach the congregation: it is inscribed with the names of the thirteen first abbots. At the end of the left aisle is an imperial eagle in mosaic, and above it two angels with torches in their hands, said to have belonged to the tomb of Pope Benedict IX. In the middle of the floor is an enormous disc of porphyry, which was broken by the French in their attempts to remove it. Over the entrance of the choir is a second mosaic, of the Twelve Apostles, with the Saviour, typified by the Lamb, represented below, not on the throne. The high altar, decorated with two angels of the Bernini school, sustains a reliquary of bronze with agate pillars, which was intended for S. Peter's, but, being found too small, was given to Grotta Ferrata by Cardinal Barberini.

From the L. aisle we enter the chapel of the first Abbot, S. Bartholomew. It is a parallelogram with a small dome over the east end. The wall on the left is occupied by the frescoes of S. Nilus praying before the crucifix; the visit of Otho III. to S. Nilus; and, in the choir, the healing of the demoniac by S. Nilus. The frescoes on the right represent Nilus and Bartholomew, who by their prayers avert a thunderstorm from the crops which husbandmen are gathering in; the building of the Monastery; and, in the choir, the vision of the Madonna who gives the golden apple. At the sides of the altar are: S. Eustace, because he was the protector of the Farnese family, and S. Edward, because of the name of the Cardinal who built the chapel. In the dome, beneath the figure of the Almighty are the Roman saints, Agnese, Cecilia, and Franceses Romana. All the frescoes are by Domenichino (1610). The altar-piece, representing Nilus and Bartholomew with the Virgin, is by Ann. Caraeci. At the west end of the chapel is a curious urn used as a baptismal font.

'About the year 1610, when Cardinal Odoardo Farnese was Abbot of Grotta Ferrata, he undertook to rebuild a defaced and ruined chapel, which had in very ancient times been dedicated to the interesting Greek saints S. Adrian and his wife 8. Natalia. The chapel was accordingly restored with great magnificence, rededicated to 8. Nilus and his companion, S. Bartolommeo, who are regarded as the two first Abbots; and Domenichino, then in his twenty-eighth year, was employed to represent on the wall some of the most striking incidents connected with the foundatiqn of the monastery.

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