The great monastery of Monte Oliveto–nestled in the hills of Tuscany just South of the city of Siena.
I visited there on my 1987 hitch hiking pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and re-visited last summer on a trip to Italy.
The hermits of Camaldoli were founded by St Romuald–a Benedictine monk– in the mountains of central Italy in 1012.
It is the home base of the Camaldolese Monastic order. I visited Camaldoli in the summer of 1987 during my hitch hiking pilgrimage from England to the Holy Land.
It was a long hike up the mountain before finally arriving at the guesthouse in the wooded area secluded on the mountaintop.
The Camaldolese have houses around the world. The New Camaldoli Hermitage is their main outpost in the USA. It is in the Santa Lucia mountains of Big Sur, California.
The ancient Romanesque church is situated in a beautiful secluded valley in Tuscany.
I visited here last summer while on a private pilgrimage to Italy. Ever since I had seen this church and been inspired by it to build our new church of Our Lady of the Rosary it had been a dream of mine to make it to San Antimo.
It was a Benedictine monastery in the 12th century, but its power didn’t last very long. That is why the church is in such an unspoiled example of Romanesque architecture. It was pretty much abandoned by 1300. In the 1870s the Italian state paid for its restoration. In 1992 monastic life was restored with the arrival of Premonstratensian monks (Norbertines)
At the time of our visit there were about eight monks. We were able to stay in the nearby hilltop town in the monastic guest house. The monks sang the offices and celebrated Mass in the Novus Ordo, with Gregorian chant and mostly in Latin and with great solemnity and beauty.
I wish I could have stayed for a week on retreat. Sadly, the Norbertines are about to abandon the location due to lack of numbers. Pray that the bishop will find a new community to take charge of this beautiful monastic heritage site.
Here is the interior after morning Mass. They used lots of incense and the morning light through the smoke created this great picture.
The Holy Mountain – Mount Athos is the premier monastery–or collection of monasteries in the Eastern Orthodox faith. Located on a peninsula in Northeastern Greece…
Mount Athos has been inhabited since the ancient times and is known for its nearly 1,800-year continuous Christian presence and its long historical monastic traditions, which date back to at least 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. The Athonite monasteries feature a rich collection of well-preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents, and artworks of immense historical value.
Learn more about Athos here.
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.
–T.S.Eliot Little Gidding