Monday, March 23, 2009

Monastery Day


Fossanova on Saturday evening.

It was somethin!

Currently the home of the Conventual Franciscans, the monastery was built in the 12th century and is regarded as one of the finest examples of the Burgundian Early Gothic style, in Italy (according to Wiki).

Gothic vaulting in the abbey church.

The nave.

Rose window.

That snazzy mosaic decoration that I couldn't remember the name of last time, is "cosmetesque". But I am informed that this is not actual cosmetesque, but merely a later reproduction in the same style...cosmetesque-esque.

The big round thing in the middle of the little house is not, I am informed, a bird bath. Not officially anyway. (Note orange and lemon trees...this is the south of Italy, after all.)

Twisty columns.

I understand that these are Architecturally Significant.

The cloister.

The bird bath again.

From inside the cloister gardens.

The room where St. Thomas Aquinas died is now a chapel that one gets to by following one's nose (there are no signs), entering a little medieval stone house that looks as if you're not allowed to go into it, and climbing up a very narrow and dark marble stair, the steps of which are so slippery as to send an English Elf n' Saftey inspector into fits. (I seem to have a large number of photos of John Sonnen taking photos. It's turning into a little hobby.)

The altar piece showing...well, the death of St. Thomas, I suppose.

Gregory and Chris reading the Latin inscriptions telling visitors that this indeed is the room where St. Thomas died, and not a barn for storing oranges.

The monastery is quite large and it appears that on can rent flats or something there. This is the back side of

a little row of shops and a restaurant. It's kind of a mini medieval monastic theme park, actually.

Gregory on his fortieth birthday. (Hi Gregory's mum!)

It's spring at Fossanova.

The back half of the house where St. Thomas died.

The bad news. If you're looking for a monastery to join, I'd think twice about this one. The little gifte shoppe was full of the latest thing in theology and spirituality.

Am I correct in thinking that Anthony De Mello is among the very very few crazed delusional heretics investigative theologians who has been excommunicated under JPII?

But all in all, I have to say, it felt pret-ty darn holy. And you know, Ancient and Important.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the great pics!
Gregory's mum

Br. Stephen, O.Cist said...

Someone really should count how many Cistercian abbeys have become artificial reefs for other life forms.

The Dominicans, of course, think St. Thomas died in a Cistercian abbey because it was convenient. We tend to think that the author of the Summa was smart enough to look for the express check-out line.

Anonymous said...

Hah! I have never heard it put so amusingly. Indeed, I intend to steal that expression.