ePub 版

derius, which was approached by a wide atrium, and divided by Jo granite columns. Both the atrium and the interior of the church were covered with mosaic representations of New Testament subjects, by artists imported from Constantinople. Over the present entrance is an inscription relating the storv of the church. The present gates have the plates of the original bronze doors, inlaid in silver letters with a list of all the possessions of the abbey in 1066, when they were made at Constantinople for Desiderius.

The present Church was built in 1640 in the form of a I^tin Cross. It is of the most extreme magnificence, exceeds S. Peter's, and rivals the Certosa of Pavia in the richness and variety of its marbles. The roof of the nave is painted by Luca Giordano, and by the same painter is a great fresco over the doors, of the consecration of the first basilica by Alexander II.

The stalls of the choir, though renaissance, are splendid specimens of carved wood-work; in the centre of each is a Benedictine saint. Here hang four great pictures by Francesco Solinus. In the left transept is the tomb of Pietro de' Medici, who was drowned in the Garigliano, Dec. 27, 1503, by the overcrowding and sinking of a boat, in which lie was taking flight after the defeat of the French by Gonsalvo da Cordova. The bas-reliefs are by San Gallo. In the opposite transept is the tomb of Guidone Fieramosca, last Prince of Mignano. In the side chapels are several works of Marco Mazzaroppi, the best being S. Gregory the Great, and the martyrdom of S. Andrew. Beneath the high altar and surrounded by a chain of lamps, repose Benedict and Scholastica, with these words only over their grave:

[merged small][ocr errors]

"Benedictum et Scholasticam,

Uno in terris partir editos,
Una in Deum pietate coelo redditos,

Unus hie excipit tumulus
Mortalis depositi pro Kternitate custos."

In the crypt below, where Tasso, on his last journey to Rome, knelt by the founder's tomb, are some ruined frescoes by the rare master Marco da Siena. In the sacristy a number of magnificent old copes are preserved. Here are a curious old brazier and a stone lavatory.

The Refectory contains an immense picture by Francesco and Leandro Bassano. In the upper part, Christ is represented performing the miracle of the loaves and fishes; in the lower, S. Benedict is distributing the symbolical bread of the Benedictine Rule. The painter Leandro has introduced his own figure to the left of the saint. In the corner is John Calvin, livid with disgust.

The Library, built in the 16th century, by the \bbot Squarcialupi, still contains about 20,000 volumes. Its origin mounts up to the foundation of the abbey, for S. Benedict mentions it in one of the rules of his Order. 800 original diplomas remain, containing the charters and privileges accorded to the abbey by popes, emperors, and kings. The collection of Lombard charters deserves especial notice on account of the miniatures placed at the head of each, a contemporary portrait-gallery rudely executed, but at least interesting, as displaying the costume of the time. The earliest charter, bearing date 884, is of a Prince of Beneventum, and begins—" Ajo Dei providentia Longobardorum gentis princeps." The earliest bull is that of Pope Zacharias of the beginning of the 8th century. Amongst the MSS. is a co-eval MS. of Dante. Most of the pictures at Monte Cassino were removed to form the gallery at Naples. A few sketches by old masters, which remain, are collected in the cell of S. Benedict.

It requires more than a passing visit to Monte Cassino in order really to appreciate it. The views are such as grow upon one daily and are full of interest. The highest peak is Monte Cairo, near the foot of which is the patriarchal castle of the family of S. Thomas Aquinas. Through the valley winds the Garigliano. In the plain between it and the sea the great battle was gained by Gonsalvo da Cordova, in which Pietro de' Medici perished, to whom his uncle Clement VII. gave a tomb here. Between the mountains the Mediterranean may be descried, glittering in the bay of Gaieta.

"Au sommet de sa montagne le moine bénédictin, dégagé des vains bruits de la terre, peut, du fond de sa cellule, contempler Dieu dans la plus admirable de ses oeuvres, et par suite éprouver de ces ravissements intimes qui font oublier aux âmes rêveuses les douleurs de la passion et les amertumes du sacrifice. On l'a remarqué souvent, et c'est le lieu de le rappeler ici, la plupart des fondateurs d'ordres religieux ont montré une connaissance profonde du coeur humain, en choisissant pour y bâtir leur première demeure les sites à la fois les plus beaux et les plus recueillis. C'était un dédommagement offert à la faiblesse et aux tendances naturelles de l'homme, qui sent toujours le besoin de retremper sa foi aux sources vives de la nature, pour remonter ensuite du spectacle de la création à la sublime idée du Créateur. "—Alphonse Dantier.

In the evening, delightful walks may be taken to the different ruins and old chapels in the neighbourhood. In the old Collegiata of S. Germano it will be interesting to recall the picturesque legend of " Le Suore Morte."

'Two ladies of an illustrious family had joined the sisterhood of S. Scholastica. Though in other respects exemplary and faithful to theif religious profession, they were much given to scandal and vain talk;

[blocks in formation]

which being told to S. Benedict, it displeased him greatly; and he sent to them a message, that if they did not refrain their tongues and set a better example to the community he would excommunicate them. The nuns were at first alarmed and penitent, and promised amendment; but the habit was too strong for their good resolves; they continued their

[graphic][merged small]

vain and idle talking, and, in the midst of their folly, they died. And being of great and noble lineage, they were buried in the church near the altar; and afterwards, on a certain day, as S. Benedict solemnized mass at that altar, and at the moment when the officiating deacon uttered the usual words, 'Let those who are excommunicated, and forbidden to partake, depart and leave us'; behold, the two nuns rose vf from their graves, and in the sight of all the people, with faces drooping and averted, they glided out of the church. And thus it happened evert time that the mass was celebrated there, until S. Benedict, framing pity upon them, absolved them from their sins, and they rested in —Jameson's Monastic Orders.

Monte Cassino is still (1874) the residence of the learned and venerable Padre Tosti, who vies with his brethren in kindness shown to strangers and the hospitality with which they are received. Though "spogliati"—say the monks— "Providence still watches over the children of S. Benedict, and has preserved this, his most important convent, from destruction :" they are constantly occupied in education, and there is a great college in the convent .

Monte Cassino should be visited after Subiaco. At Subiaco, S. Benedict is seen as a Monk; at Monte Cassino, as a Prince.

« 上一頁繼續 »