Tuesday 16 September
Seventh Day of the Symposium, Pilgrimage to Subiaco
Today was a special day, our pilgrimage to Subiaco. We had an early start with breakfast at 6.15 am, and strict instructions to be at the main gate at 7 am. We traveled in two coaches, Lauds was celebrated on the coaches as we drove south though the Italian countryside, then up the steep hill to St Benedict’s monastery.
Monastero di S. Benedetto
On our arrival at St Benedict’s monastery, quite a walk up the hill from the coach park, we were met by our guide. We had a guided tour of the Upper Church, the Lower Church, St Benedict’s Cave, St Gregory’s Chapel, Our Lady’s chapel—all decorated with magnificent frescoes from various schools of painting.
At 11 am Abbot Primate Notker Wolf celebrated Mass for us in the Upper Church, including renewal of monastic profession. As well as addressing us during the Mass, afterwards he played his flute for us.
Monastero di S. Scolastica
We then drove down the hill to Santa Scolastica, home to a small community of monks, and walked in the sunshine down to the monastery. It was time for lunch, a delicious meal served in the guest-house dining room.
After lunch is was, of course, siesta time, so we had time before our guided tour, an opportunity to look around outside, or sit and enjoy our surroundings—but by now the sun had gone in, the clouds were gathering.
The big doors opened, it was time for our tour, we entered the monastery with our very well-informed tour-guide. By now it was raining quite heavily, and all of a sudden there was a flash of lightning and roll of thunder, this caused quite a bit of amusement as we remembered the story in the ‘Dialogues’ of St Gregory of how St Benedict had been prevented from returning to his monastery by sudden lightning, thunder and heavy rain, brought about by the prayers of his sister St Scholastica.
After our tour, we walked back up the hill to see the collection of ancient books, manuscripts, and some printing equipment, housed in what had been the first printing works in Italy.
By now it was time to leave for Rome, we returned to the coaches. Some of us had difficulty in remembering which coach we had come on, but eventually we got ourselves sorted out and Sr Mary Luke was sure that no one was about to be left behind.
On the coaches our first priority was to pray Vespers—before some of us fell asleep!
Photos by Sr Colleen Quinlivan (Flickr)
Photos by Sr Mary Luke Jones (Flickr)
Photos by Sr Benedict Brown (Flickr)