Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monte Cassino

Ok, so Saturday I took a day trip with one of the third-years I knew from Franciscan. He was looking for someone to go with him and I would have just spent my day back at the college, so I was happy to go along. Montecassino is an old* monastery founded by Saint Benedict himself (his first and most important, if I remember correctly, though I could be mistaken on that). "Old" is used rather loosely, as the place has been destroyed and rebuilt roughly five times since it was first founded, most recently at the Battle of Monte Cassino during WWII (where sadly we Americans bombed it to smithereens, but that's how it goes sometimes- I heard from another guy there that one of the bombs that fell immediately next to the high altar and down into the crypt with the bodies of Saints Benedict and Scholastica did not explode and is still there to this day- praise God for that). It was a beautiful example of how nice modern art and architecture can appear, when we so desire. The place was stunningly beautiful. We took a 110 minute train to Cassino, a small to mid-sized Italian town at the foot of the mountains. From there we took a bus up the mountain to Montecassino. The morning was beautiful in its solitude and quiet- there was a heavy, low-lying layer of clouds which hung around the base of the mountain, so that, by the time we got to the monastery, we could not see anything- the noise and distractions of the city were hidden from view and quickly forgotten. Saints Benedict and Scholastica are both entombed in Montecassino, so we prayed at their tombs for a few quiet moments. The chapel there was stunning- I'll let most of the pictures do the talking and comment only where necessary. I've very glad Riley invited me to go with him- it was a perfect day trip and a good end to our time of orientation and acclimation.

Ok, I couldn't help putting this picture in my post- the juxtaposition was
too beautiful to resist. If you look very carefully, you can see Monte Cassino through the graffiti-covered window of the train just above the "I", partially covered by the train line outside.

Again, I couldn't help it. Welcome to Europe, everyone!

Here's a better view from just outside the train station.

And we arrived here...

The solitude on the hill I mentioned- this is actually quite a good shot- that's
really how shrouded we were in the clouds.

Ok, notice the statues of Benedict and Scholastica. When you see the picture of Our Lady, that's the rear of the main altar, the spot in the main chapel where Sts. Benedict and Scholastica are venerated. Also, the very golden chapel is the crypt church underneath the main church. It's where the bodies of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica are. I tried to get shots of them, too, but they weren't great. It was a good thing another tour group got down into there to pray- it appeared that the lower chapel was not always open. Notice the incredible marble work on the altars and walls, especially the Blessed Sacrament altar (the first one you see in the set of pictures right before the main altar). It's incredible what we can do with modern technology. The final shot is of the Polish graveyard from the war down the mountain a little from Monte Cassino.

Ok, here begins my commentary silence. Enjoy!

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