Sicily 4: The Benedictine Monastery and the Cathedral at Monreale, Sicily

A short bus ride from the city of Palermo is the mountain town of Monreale. The first site you see except for the mountain in the background is The Cathedral, a combination of Norman and Byzantine architecture dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary and famous for a mosaic of Christ looking downward at Mass goers and visitors alike from above the altar. Unfortunately, the Cathedral interior was so dark the day we visited that photos were nearly impossible. My photo of the mosaic of Christ is from too great a distance and does not do justice to his penetrating look, which even nonbelievers find compelling.

The Benedictine Monastery suggests the fondness of the Benedictine religious order for mountainous places apart from the world very much like the similar monastery a bus ride away from Barcelona, Spain in the mountain region of Montserrat. This Sicilian one consists of a cloister and the monk’s dormitory (closed on the day we were there). Mount Caputo slopes down below the Cathedral and Monastery to a valley where orange, olive and almond trees were (and maybe still are) grown. A garden in the monk’s cloister produced the same on a smaller scale.

The site also has a museum, belonging to the Diocese of Monreale, where its artifacts are exhibited.

I am writing this blog on April 16, 2019, the day after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was burnt down, and the reactions of Parisians to that event (prayers, rosaries, tears) remind me of the extent to which European Cathedrals in some sense are their respective countries. Believers and non-believers alike are deeply affected by them.

After my disappointing photo of the mosaic of Christ inside the dark Cathedral is the one taken in the inexpensive trinket shop outside. That one, though in a comparatively shabby commercial setting, gives you a clearer idea of what the mosaic actually looks like.

The Monreale Cathedral
Mount Caputo in the background
The Benedictine Dormitory
Mary adding a cheerful note
The Mosaic of Christ looking Downward from above the Altar and Windown

2 thoughts on “Sicily 4: The Benedictine Monastery and the Cathedral at Monreale, Sicily

  1. [image: Wendling Monreale. 2.jpg]

    Dear Ron and Mary, I just Photoshopped it a little. Happy memories……

    I was devastated by yesterday’s news. I’d done an article and book chapter on my own Stendahl Aesthetic Overload experience at Notre Damd deParis on the feast of St. Michel in the summer of 1979, I literally melted out of my chair, begging God (I think it was a prayer) to “please make the organ stop or I would die there and then.” He did, I didn’t but I was surely embarrassed by the crowd that gathered round me. Thanks for sharing. Dennis

    On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 11:58 AM Ron Wendling’s Blog wrote:

    > ronwendlingoutlookcom posted: ” A short bus ride from the city of Palermo > is the mountain town of Monreale. The first site you see except for the > mountain in the background is The Cathedral, a combination of Norman and > Byzantine architecture dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary an” >

    Like

    1. Dear Dennis,

      Sounds like you had a kind of out-of-body experience there. Glad you survived it. Also glad so much has been saved from the fire. Onward we go.

      Ron

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      Ronald C. Wendling Professor Emeritus of English Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia) Blog: http://keepingupwithron.social

      ________________________________ From: Ron Wendling's Blog Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 1:11:24 PM To: ronwendling@outlook.com Subject: [Ron Wendling’s Blog] Comment: “Sicily 4: The Benedictine Monastery and the Cathedral at Monreale, Sicily”

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      New comment on Ron Wendling’s Blog [https://keepingupwithron.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/cropped-100_1993.jpg?w=32] [http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/05c0a7a948e885b698bde624f6939e36?s=60&d=identicon&r=G]

      dennismcnallysj commented on Sicily 4: The Benedictine Monastery and the Cathedral at Monreale, Sicily

      A short bus ride from the city of Palermo is the mountain town of Monreale. The first site you see except for the mountain in …

      [image: Wendling Monreale. 2.jpg]

      Dear Ron and Mary, I just Photoshopped it a little. Happy memories……

      I was devastated by yesterday’s news. I’d done an article and book chapter on my own Stendahl Aesthetic Overload experience at Notre Damd deParis on the feast of St. Michel in the summer of 1979, I literally melted out of my chair, begging God (I think it was a prayer) to “please make the organ stop or I would die there and then.” He did, I didn’t but I was surely embarrassed by the crowd that gathered round me. Thanks for sharing. Dennis

      Like

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