Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pope Visits Important Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino

Pope Benedict visited the historic Benedictine abbey of Montecassino today as part of making a pastoral visit to that region of Italy, which is 80 miles south of Rome.

Montecassino is of particular significance to the Benedictine order for the reason that the monastery is tied to its founder, St. Benedict:

About 529 St. Benedict left Subiaco, to escape the persecutions of the jealous priest, Florentius. Accompanied by a chosen band, among them Sts. Maurus and Placid, he journeyed to Monte Cassino, one of the properties made over to him by Tertullus, St. Placid's father. The town of Cassinum (Cassino), lying at the foot of the mountain, had been destroyed by the Goths some thirty-five years earlier, but a temple of Apollo still crowned the summit of the mountain, and the few remaining inhabitants were still sunk in idolatry. Benedict's first act was to break the image of Apollo and destroy the altar, on the site of which he built a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and an oratory in honour of St. Martin of Tours...

Once established at Monte Cassino, St. Benedict never left it. There was written the Rule whose influence was to spread over all Western monachism; there he received the visit of Totila in 542, the only date in his life of which we have certain evidence; there he died, and was buried in one tomb with his sister, St. Scholastica.

-- Catholic Encyclopedia, "Abbey of Monte Cassino"

Prior to visiting the Abbey, the Pope celebrated Mass outdoors in the town of Cassino.

(The Pope is presented with a statue of St. Benedict)

The Holy Father will also preside at Vespers. The NLM will try to bring you photos of this, and the visit of the Holy Father to the Abbey itself.

May I take this opportunity to again encourage NLM readers who are looking for spiritual reading to considering taking up The Rule of St. Benedict (a nice edition is published by Roman Catholic Books) and to consider monastic retreats and the monastic vocation as part of fostering a liturgical life.

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