Loquis: Abbey of Saint Nilus in Grottaferrata

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Abbey of Saint Nilus in Grottaferrata


Published on:  2018-03-10 09:17:00


Inhabited since remote antiquity as shown by the presence of a necropolis from the ninth century BC, Grottaferrata is known above all for its splendid abbey, founded in about 1004 by the Calabrian Basilian monks Nilus and Bartholomew, on the ruins of an ancient Roman villa that in all likelihood belonged to the great orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. Situated inside a grand castle, the complex is the only building of the numerous Greek monasteries constructed in Italy and elsewhere in Europe between the sixth and thirteenth centuries to have survived. The Greek Catholic rite differs from the Latin only in external aspects; it spread in southern Italy around the fifteenth century when, upon the Turks' invasion of the Balkan area, many Albanians from the monastic community moved to Italy. The complex is surrounded entirely by a moat and a bridge for defence, which enclose an initial court consisting of a neighbourhood of dwellings and a garden by Sangallo. In the second court, we may admire Grottaferrata's Basilica of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata. The structure has all the elements typical of an abbey complex – cloister, library, and refectory – while the other service areas are used by the monks in their daily practise of faith. The three-naved church houses precious thirteenth-century mosaics, as well as the icon of the Madonna Theotokos.

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