The place where the walks of St Francis and St Benedict meet
Holy Valley: Monastery of Santa Scolastica
A great place on the path of St Benedict, where knowledge is preserved
Spiritual trekking in Central Italy: visit the monastery of Santa Scolastica, then walk for a quick trail to Saint Benedict of Subiaco where is the famous Sacro Speco (Holy Cave). It’s a wonderful path, seriously, it’s almost better than the walk to Santiago de Compostela!
The abbey dedicated to Santa Scolastica – who was Saint Benedict’s sister, nun as well – is a place where knowledge is preserved, through a huge archive of ancient books. There is also an ancient hand-written Bible, purchased in 1394…
Video full text: Santa Scolastica
Here in Santa Scolastica there is a hostel where I slept last night.
Now all I need to do is decide which path to take today.
I take a look at the guide by Simone Frignani,
a native of the region of Emilia, who knows these paths perfectly, because he opened them!
I’m happy to follow the path from Santa Scolastica to Saint Benedict of Subiaco.
That’s where the famous Sacro Speco (Holy Cave) is,
that people say is the threshold to heaven.
I am a real trekker!
In the same hostel where I spent the night I meet Simone, yes the guide’s actual author!
Pleased to meet you!
I thought I’d follow this small section here, how far do you think it is?
Not far, from Santa Scolastica to the Sacro Speco is about one kilometre.
Before setting off again we’ll pay a visit to the monastery of Saint Scolastica.
Well done! It’s a wonderful path.
Seriously, it’s almost better than the walk to Santiago.
Simone is an expert on religions, he also teaches religion and is passionate about monasticism.
The caves are interesting because that’s where one lives out the experience of the desert, in miniature,
the search for God and the isolation.
This applies to all religions. Mystics spend time in caves!
And then after the retreat, mystics like Saint Benedict found religious orders.
Which, yes, give a sense of order to the community of monks.
This is the place where Saint Benedict’s twin sister lived.
She too was a nun and mystic after whom the Abbey was named Santa Scolastica
Here’s Father Mariano!
Like Saint Benedict, Saint Scolastica too descended from a family of Roman nobility.
And as such, knowledge was something close to her heart.
This is a place where knowledge is preserved,
through the books in which it is written down.
These are precious books and documents that Father Mariano guards expertly.
It is here that the scribes transcribed ancient books for centuries,
illuminating them with beautiful miniatures.
This is the oldest manuscript preserved here, from the tenth century.
The small marks are annotations that indicated how the Psalm could be sung.
It is here that the notes are born!
We can just picture those monks singing before a large lectern.
Perhaps even with a large illustrated book.
It’s called choral song.
Do you know how to sing it?
Father Mariano sings in Latin
Santa Scolastica then saw the arrival of printing, fifteen years after Gutenberg.
That’s because there were German monks here.
From then on books were printed and the way to their distribution was opened,
even that of less pleasing books, like those of Latin grammar,
which students, over the years, have mistreated, lost and destroyed.
Latin grammar always meets an ugly end!
There’s also a section here dedicated to print,
veritable comics that tell of the life of Saint Benedict.
Further up is the archive, with an ancient hand-written Bible,
with proof of when it was purchased: 4 October 1394.
Internet and Wikipedia may have their place, but isn’t there a space for paper as well?
These treasures have to be preserved.
Look at what I’ve bought. Father Bernardo’s elixir again all ailments.
I’m a little chilly, do you want some?
Yes, why not. It has everything in it and it’s a little alcoholic too.
Is this pace OK?
Down there is Rome, it’s not too far.
But it’s like another world here.
Anyone going to Rome should come here as well!
Latium is not just Rome, there’s so much more and it is extraordinary.
The panorama I see before me is truly gorgeous!
There is the Sacro Speco of Subiaco,
leaning up against the cave where Benedict lived as a hermit for three years.
A hermit yes, but in a place that was not bad at all, and in the midst of a wonderful countryside.