Each year, the officials of Collegio Sant’Anselmo take their annual “gita”, or outing, to a place of interest near Rome. This year, on 25 June, Prior Mauritius Wilde chose the Exarchic Greek Monastery of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, located southeast of Rome, in the small town of Grottaferrata, in the Castelli Romani mountains.
The monastery was founded in 1004 by a group of monks from Calabria led by St. Nilus of Rossano. Today, Grottaferrata is the last of the many Byzantine-Greek monasteries that dotted Sicily, southern Italy and Rome itself in the Middle Ages. The monks are Catholics of the Byzantine-Greek rite and belong to the Basilian Order, established by the Catholic Church for all Byzantine-rite monasteries in Italy.
The monastery is also unique in that, having been founded fifty years before the Great Schism that divided Catholics and Orthodox, it remained in communion with the Church of Rome while preserving the Byzantine rite and monastic tradition of its founders. This makes this monastery ecumenically very important today as a testament to the bridge between the eastern and western Churches.
In fact, the new hegumen of Saint Nilus was blessed on the day before our visit. Hegumen (Abbot) Francesco De Feo OSB, originally monk of St. Paul Outside the Walls and also professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical Ateneo Sant’Anselmo, was appointed by the Congregation for Oriental Churches. He will continue his service to our university as professor.
The day included a tour of the Church, monastery and grounds. The officials joined the Basilian monks for midday prayer and then for lunch. Afterward, they enjoyed gelato in the scenic town of Grottaferrata.