To most of us the name Subiaco may be more synonymous to an old AFL ground in Perth, but the origin of it comes from Italy and it is the place where St Benedict started his quest for holiness and ultimately lead to the founding of the Benedictine order of monks in the 6th century. Subiaco is located about an hour northeast of Rome and is accessible by buses that regularly depart from a northern Rome metro station making it the ideal day trip. Last week on one of our term break days, I ventured out into the country for some fresh air and hike in the mountains to see what I could find.
The Sacro Speco,(sacred cave) is the monastery and church built on the site of St Benedicts cave where he is said to spent up to three years before he started his ministry. it is literally built on the side of the cliff. It is one of up to twelve monasteries in the valley in which he would become superior of while he was still alive.
To get to the Sacra Speco I had to hike about 4 kilometers out of town and up the mountains. Below is the town of Subiaco.
Follow the signs, a series of paths wound there way up the mountain crossing over the road on the way up.
About halfway up the mountain, is a monastery dedicated St Scholastica, this was Benedicts sister probably a twin who was dedicated to the mission of the church as well founding religious communities for women. When St Benedict went to Monte Casino she followed him and started an order for women nearby as well.
Looking back over the town of Subiaco.
Looking down onto St Scholastica's.
and the trail continued up.
Eventually I reached the Sacra Speco and the views were spectacular. the opposite mountain range sandwiched a river at the bottom of the valley, echoed the sound of flowing water up the hillside while the birds chirped in the warm spring sunshine. No wonder St Benedict stayed here for 3 years!
Once I made my way into the Church the frescos were spectacular covering nearly every part of the walls and ceilings.
There is a few levels to the Church and there are a few chapel's in there.
The 'Sacra Speco' with a St Benedict statue in there with an altar, looking down from above.
St Benedict in his cave. Apparently someone from a near by monastery lowered food down to him everyday to sustain him. It was very peaceful to sit a while in the cave, and offer a prayer or two.
There is something about caves and saints with a similar story to St Francis and his beginnings, and also the female spiritual companionship St Francis and St Clare, St Benedict and St Scholastica.
One more view over the valley before heading back down the mountain.
Back in town and the main cathedral is St Andrews' which was undergoing some renovations.
A lovely mosaic of the Blessed Virgin at Pentecost, in the adoration chapel.
St Andrew's Cathedral from the back it hangs over the hilltop and is built up.
Back in the town the river that could be heard running through the valley is a crystal clear natural wonder.
After the walk back down the mountain, it was getting toward the end of the day and time to head back to Rome. The pathway along the river lead back to the bus station and it was lovey end to a day out, I had time to ponder that it was not hard to see why this place produced a couple of amazing saints.
P.S. I have had some trouble with the website, as I have exceeded the allowable storage limit for free site hosting and have had many of my earlier post pictures removed. I have now payed for a monthly storage fee to allow me to keep the posts going and will endeavor to reload the earlier post pictures if I can.