Exarchic Greek Abbey of St. Mary of Grottaferrata - Basilian Monks

Corso del Popolo, 128 - 00046 Grottaferrata (Rome) ITALY - Phone 0039.06.9459309 - Fax 0039.06.9456734

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  • A Panoramic View
  • The Entrance Portal
  • A Section of the Roverian Walls
  • The Basilica of St. Mary
  • The Byzantine Mosaic
  • The Triumphal Arch
  • The Cryptoporticus
  • The Fortress at Night
A Panoramic View1 The Entrance Portal2 A Section of the Roverian Walls3 The Basilica of St. Mary4 The Byzantine mosaic5 The Triumphal Arch6 The Cryptoporticus7 The Fortress at Night8
Art and Culture -> The Basilica of St. Mary of Grottaferrata
The façade The eaves and the friezes are made of bricks, with saw-like grooves. A series of pendulum arches sustained by pillar strips and small blocks of marble decorate all the outside walls; in them there are some windows closed by perforated marble plates which emanate a mystic light. In the upper façade a series of gothic arches make the visitor aware of the changes that taken have taken place, while in the center there is a huge marble rose. On the right stands the Roman style bell-tower, with six three-fold pillar windows and ceramic polychrome dishes.
Entrance Hall The entrance to the Basilica is through a pronaòs (vestibule), with four pillars supporting the architrave. From this point there is the passage to the Narthex (vestibule), where the Christian rites of initiation of Cathecumens took place. On the left, the marble Baptismal Font, a Byzantine work of the IX Century, with symbolic bas relief figures representing man stripping off this garments, i.e. his sins; he plunges into the baptismal waters and is fished out transformed into a fish, a symbolic figure of Christ. On the right there is an icon of the Resurrection.
Portal The door is called 'speciosa' (latin = 'beatiful') because of its precious decorations. From the narthex to the central nave of the Church one passes through a magnificent marble doorway with finely engraved door posts, with engraved cedar doors. Above, a mosaic (called Dèisis - intercession – XI Century) representing Christ blessing situated between The Virgin and St. John the Baptist. A lesser figure at the feet of Christ is possibly a portrait of St. Bartholomaeus, the builder of the church.
Internals As one enters the sanctuary, one notices a marked change in style. In 1754 Cardinal G. Guadagni brought about an almost complete transformation of the church by having the walls with their frescoes and the marble pillars covered with baroque plastering.
The polychrome marble floor is the only thing that remains of the whole decoration made by the Cosmati artist family, a work of the XIII Century.
The wooden monk's choir is featured with valuable inlaid seats; it was fixed in 1901.
Triumphal Arch Very little remains of the ancient splendour: the mosaic and the paintings of the triumphal arch. The mosaic represents the 12 Apostles and Pentecost or the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, a Byzantine work of the XII Century.
Frescoes Above the triumphal arch there are remains of frescoes originating from the XII and XIII Century (much of which is in the museum).
We can see the Holy Trinity, Christ in small dimension sitting in the lap of God the Father and holding the dove symbol of the Holy Spirit. In 1577 Cardinal Alessandro Farnese had a lacunar ceiling constructed, demolishing the former beam type ceiling. In both sides there are many angels and the prophets David and Isaiah.
Iconostasis The Iconostasis, (walls which separate the altar from the rest of the Church), indicates our infinite distance from the mystery of God (as well as the goodness of God) which is nevertheless communicated to us through the Holy Liturgy. The Iconostasis of this church was planned by Bernini and made by his disciple Giorgetti.
In the middle of the Iconostasis, surrounded by a chorus of angels, is enthroned the Theotòkos, the Icon of the Mother of God.
Vima Through the three doors which are open only during the Holy Liturgy, the altar emerges, surmounted by a canopy from which hangs a silver dove in symbolic adoration above the ciborium where the Blessed Sacrament rests.

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Corso del Popolo, 128 - 00046 Grottaferrata (Rome) ITALY - Phone 0039.06.9459309 - Fax 0039.06.9456734