After Saint Benedict had spent 3 years living alone in a cave in the mountains around Subiaco he started developing a following and founded his first monastery there. Nowadays the monastery is famous for its many frescoes. The walk uphill from the city to the monastery offers some spectacular views.
Monastery of Saint Benedict Subiaco
Address: Piazzale San Benedetto, snc. Phone: (+39) 0774 85039. Opening hours: From 09:30 till 12:30 and from 15:00 till 18:30 (from November 2 till March 31 only till 17:30).
History and description
It is written that Saint Benedict founded 12 communities of 12 monks each in the valley of Subiaco. Saint Benedict himself went to live nearby in a cave in what used to be Nero’s Villa. This site developed into the first monastery, called San Clemente.
Subsequently Saint Benedict founded a second monastery and dedicated it to Pope Sylvester. This monastery later came to be called Saint Scholastica.
In the 9th century the Saracens destroyed this monastery, but after it had been reconstructed by a succession of Popes Benedict VII consecrated it with the name of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica.
In the 10th century a new church was built, and during the reign of a succession of abbots parts were added: the bell-tower, a common hall, a courtyard adorned with marble pillars and many other rooms.
It was in this time that Beato Palombo, the future Saint Benedict, went to live as a hermit in the sacred cave. Others followed and at the end of the 12th century the first congregation of monks was born here.
At that point two monasteries and one community existed side by side, but gradually the number of monks diminished, to be replaced by sons of aristocrats. This was not always a great success and discipline suffered in result.
The abbot Bartholomew expelled the disobedient ones and invited other monks, also from outside Italy, to join. In these years (14th and 15th centuries) the Abbey was dedicated to Saint Scholastica and the Monastery of the Speco to Saint Benedict.
When Napoleon ruled over Italy, the monks were temporarily forced to abandon the abbey.