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Via Prenestina with its ancient paving-blocks appears by the side of the road; and, passing a great Casino called // Parco dei Barberini, we reach the foot of the hill, up which Palestrina clambers, at the inn of S. Rocco.



(This is a very 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 great castellated monastery of Grotta Ferrata is only about two miles from Frascati on the slopes of the Alban hills. It is the only Basilian monastery in the Papal States, and its monks perform the service in Greek according to the Greek ritual. The story of its foundation is that of S. Nilus.

S. Nilus was a Calabrian Greek, born near Tarentum. He did not embrace a religious life till his old age, when his wife, to whom he was tenderly attached, was dead, and then he became a Greek monk of the order of S. Basil, and soon was elected abbot of his convent. Driven by the Saracens from the east of Italy, 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.

S. Nilus next took up his abode at Rome in the convent of S. Alexis, 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 S. Angelo, and had there murdered him; and, putting out the eyes of Pope John XVI., had set up Gregory V. in his place. S. Nilus alone ventured to oppose the 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 aveuge 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 Nilus, promising a rich endowment for his convent. But his offers were all 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. A few weeks after, Otho was obliged to fly from the people, and was poisoned by the widow of Crescentius. Nilus had betaken himself in STORY OF GROTTA FERRATA.

1004 to the solitudes of Grotta Ferrata because of the certainty of canonization 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 Bartolomeo 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 1 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 Gonsalvi, who renounced the baronial juris

diction which had hitherto belonged to the abbots 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. Within, the greater part of the two courts have been modernized, but the church retains its campanile of the tenth century. In the atrium is a black cross supposed to mark the exact height of our Saviour, 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 door (now enclosed) is the inscription :—

Oikou Geou jifXXovrfc liofiaivuv wi\t]v
t£it} yivotaQt rijc /1fdqg Tutv fpovri&up
W tii/uvwc eCpoire rbv KptTi)v tou.

[Ye who would enter here the house of God
Cast out the leaven of pride and worldly thought
That kindly ye may find the Judge within.]

Above, is a very 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. The doors are beautifully carved. At the end of the right aisle is a curious 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 ot the tnirteen first abbots. At the end of the left aisle is the tomb of Pope Benedict IX., with the imperial eagle in mosaic, and above it two angels with torches in their hands. In the middle of the floor is an enormous dish of porphyry: it 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

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