- Oliver Strunk
Italian monastery and library. Some 19 km from Rome, among the Castelli Romani in the Alban hills at an altitude of well over 320 metres, stands the monastery (Badia Greca) of Grottaferrata, founded in 1004 by St Nilus the Younger, a monk of the Greek rite from Rossano in Calabria. The site had been donated by Gregory, Count of Tusculum, and it took its name, as did the little town that grew up around it, from a late Roman remain, a sort of tomb or oratory with barred windows, adjoining which the monks built their church, dedicated on 17 December 1024 to the Madonna.
Among those libraries of Western Europe that house extensive collections of Greek manuscripts, the library of the Badia occupies a special place, rivalled only by the smaller collection from the monastery of S Salvatore di Messina, today a part of the Messina University library. It is a genuinely monastic library, and as such reflects the needs and interests of a particular monastic community. The founders of that community had come from Calabria, bringing with them the tradition of the Greek-speaking settlements of southern Italy and Sicily. And that tradition, being peripheral, not only tended to lag behind the tradition of the Eastern Empire proper, it eventually lost all contact with it. The Latin occupation of Constantinople in ...