The Abbey, also known with the name of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata and consecrated in 1024 by the Pope John XIX, hosts the Basilian religious who follow the byzantine rite, precisely of the Church of Constantinople. The monastery was founded approximately 50 years before the schism of the East and after it the cenoby criptense remained always faithful to the Church of Rome, therefore Catholics can participate in the byzantine rite is celebrated in the Abbazia di San Nilo and approach him in the sacraments. Outside the Monastery is enclosed by a massive walls embattled equipped with battlements and a fortress equipped with semicircular tower, whose construction was decided in 1482 by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere for the control and the defense of the place of worship. Currently it still preserves the main door decorated with bas-reliefs of celebration, which at the time was provided with a drawbridge. The current access bridge to the Abbey introduces to the courtyard with the large statue of Saint Nilus and the portico of the Sangallo. The Church of Santa Maria is flanked by a Romanesque bell tower and has a façade adorned by a huge rose window. Through the door called "speciosa" because of the rich decorations that cover, access is gained to the interior of the Basilica. The internal ornaments, originally Romanesque in style, were covered in 1754 from a thick coating in stucco of baroque style. The wooden ceiling is 1577, the floor in polychrome marble is joined to the taste of the XIII century, while the triumphal arch that separates the nave from the presbytery is decorated with mosaics of the XII century with scenes of Pentecost. The lateral nave contains the so-called Grotta Ferrata (cryptaferrata) and the Farnese Chapel with frescoes by Domenichino. At the entrance of the apse stands out the icon of Mary with the Child of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, behind we the Sanctuary with the canopy from which hangs the silvery dove that preserves the Blessed Sacrament.
The church is open to the public and can be visited. Inside the Abbey is located an important library where are preserved more than a thousand ancient manuscripts and about 50,000 volumes of great value, some dating back to the years of the foundation of the Abbey and belonged to the same San Nilo. In addition to the Library, from 1931 the Abbey has a famous laboratory for the restoration of the Ancient Book, which counts among its most important work for the restoration of the famous "Atlantic Code" by Leonardo da Vinci; the work of the laboratory was also crucial in the restoration of the manuscripts saved by the Florence Flood of 1966. Finally, always inside the Abbey, you will also find an Archaeological Museum which preserves a rich collection of artifacts.
Free Visits to the care of the Association Archaeological Group Latin Bruno Martellotta: Saturday and Sunday at 4pm, in summer 17.00.
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