In the lovely hills of the Colli Albani southeast of Rome is found a quiet little suburb by the name of Grottaferrata, near Castel Gandolfo. Today we were there for the funeral rites of a friend (see photo).
There you will find a Byzantine monastery which is one of Rome's best kept secrets - the (Catholic) Greek rite Abbey of St. Nilo (Abbazia Greca di San Nilo) which was founded in 1004. Today there are just a handful of mostly elderly monks left, but they are the finest men (mostly Italians from Calabria and Sicily, born into Greek rite parishes there).
The property is owned by the state, is listed as a national treasure and buses of tourists arrive to visit every day. Every inch of the property has been maintained and preserved. The monks are Basilian and chant the Divine Liturgy in Greek, with some Italian. It brings tears to the eyes to hear them sing.
A year ago last summer I was honored to be a guest of the monks and to stay in the monastery. Sitting in the refectory I couldn't help but think how the several left were all now elderly. Now in the past year four of these same monks have passed on.
They were our favorites: Fra Damien who walked from Ukraine to Rome after World War II, Fr. John the economo and Fr. Nilo who heard his last Divine Liturgy on Saturday, the feast of St. Nilo and who died on Sunday (the monks are still buried the day after they die).
Padre Nilo Somma, 83 years old, RIP.
Perhaps it is your vocation, too?
See here: http://www.abbaziagreca.it/.