Tuesday, 9 September
Trip to Monte Cassino
On Tuesday, the day before the start of the Symposium, a group of us visited Monte Cassino.
On our arrival at the monastery we were met by one of the official guides, who was fluent in several languages, she showed us around, telling us something of the history of this ancient monastery, there were quite a few tourists around. We continued our tour with Fr. Antonio, a member of the community at Monte Cassino. He showed us some areas that are not usually open to the public, and we were invited to eat our packed lunches in the refectory. The monks had provided soft drinks, wine and ‘petits choux’ us for us, we were grateful to them for their hospitality.
The monastery was closed to the public during siesta time, we so were the only visitors there. It was peaceful and beautiful, the white doves wandered around undisturbed. There is a magnificent view from Monte Cassino, the town of Cassino at the foot of the hill, the countryside stretching away into the distance, and nearby, on the hill to the right, the Polish cemetery, reminder of the tragedy of war.
The time came for us to be on our way back to Rome. The monastery was still closed to the public, so Sr Mary Luke was counting her ‘flock’ very carefully as Fr Antonio said goodbye to us at the big iron gate. We thanked him for his time and hospitality, we returned to the coach, he locked the gate and returned to his monastery.
Ours was the only coach in the coach park, it was very quiet, even the ‘collector of the half euro’ had gone from outside the toilets. Soon we were all aboard and heading back to Rome, to be ready for the start of the Symposium the following day.
Photos by Sr Mary Luke Jones (Flickr)
Photos by Sr Benedict Brown (Flickr)