Saint Scholastica's Monastery in Subiaco
Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict of Nursia
If Saint Benedict’s Monastery captured your imagination with its fascinating historical background… you simply cannot miss the opportunity to discover another Benedictine monastic treasure: Saint Scholastica’s Monastery. So let’s start our journey with a few interesting facts, as we always do:
- Saint Scholastica’s Monastery, founded in 520 AD, is the oldest Benedictine monastery in the world.
- It is the only surviving Monastery of the 12 founded by Saint Benedict in 500 AD in the valley of Subiaco.
- In 1465, the first Italian printing press was set up in the Monastery, the work of two German monks.
But the greatest anecdote is found in the answer to the question : “Who was Saint Scholastica?””.
She was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia, better known as Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order.
They both followed a common path leading them to choose a religious way of life: living in Rome to complete their studies in Classics, they were both troubled by the corruption and debauchery of life in the Capital City and decided to embrace a life of religion, she in a monastery in Nursia, he in hermitage in Subiaco.
Years later, their paths were reunited in Montecassino, where Benedict founded Montecassino Abbey and Scholastica founded the Benedictine Sisters Order of Piumarola.
The Monastery throughout History.
The Monastery, initially dedicated to Pope Saint Silvester and later to Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, was not named after her until 1100, to avoid confusion with the Sanctuary of the Santo Speco (Sacred Cave).
Like the name, there have been various changes made to the building itself throughout the course of history: in 900, the Roman church was added to the original nucleus of the year 500, commissioned by Prince Alberico; later, the demands of monastic life begun in 1100 led to internal changes to the building; and, finally, the façade was completely rebuilt after it was destroyed in the bombings of the war in 1944.
One monastery, 3 cloisters, 5 churches.
One entrance. One motto: “Ora et Labora”. And one wish: “Pax”..
This is how Saint Scholastica’s Monastery welcomes its visitors and accompanies them towards to discovery of the three Cloisters held within its walls, the neoclassical Church and its Bell Tower. Each Cloister has its own age and it own history.
The 1600s Renaissance Cloister is the first you come to, with centuries old frescos and reproductions of historical documents kept in the monastery library. This is followed by the Gothic Cloister, which dates back to the early 1300s, opening its doors to the oldest wing of the Monastery: medieval structures, a Gothic double arch and a garden, in the centre of which there is a well with marble columns from Nero’s Villa. The Cosmatesque Cloister of 1200 is small in size yet spectacular with its marbles and frescos depicting Evangelist symbols.
From here, you move on to the neoclassical Church dedicated to the Saints Benedict and Scholastica, consecrated in 1777 and the only one still visible of the five successive churches built over the centuries … and its Roman Bell Tower, built around 1000, square in shape and made up of different parts belonging to different ages. To complete your journey through history, there is Saint Scholastica’s Library, annexed in the Monastery, home to 400 handwritten volumes, thousands of parchments and over 200 incunabula.
A place rich with history and spirituality… if you want further previews, enjoy the virtual tour on the Comune di Subiaco website.
If instead you are ready to get in the car and head to Subiaco, the Monastery is open to visitors every day from 9 to 12.15am and 3.30 to 6.30pm. For more information, visit the Benedictine Monasteries of Subiaco website.
At the Green Park Madama Hotel, we are always delighted to help you organise your visit!