The Portal May 2018 - Page 6

THE P RTAL May 2018 Page 6 Orthodoxy in Italy An unusual account by Fr Mark Woodruff I f on a visit Rome you go up into the Alban Hills to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, you may pass through Grottaferrata. A fortress watches the approach to Frascati, sitting on the platform of an old Roman villa – a cryptoporticus, or hidden arcade, of which the town’s name is a corruption.  This is no mere castle, but a monastery founded in the old arches in 1004. The massive walls are from wars lasting from the 12 th to the 15 th century. Emperor Frederick II used it for an assault on Rome in the 13 th century; in the end it looked more like barracks than a sacred retreat. Somehow, the monks maintained their life and their great reputation for conserving Greek learning throughout. For in the heart of Latin territory, this is a Greek monastery, still following the Byzantine rite from the time when East and West were not divided, a northern outpost of the Greek Christian civilisation that was once abundant across southern Italy. until it fell in turn to Ottoman Muslim abolition in the 14 th century, and then the archdiocese of Ohrid in what is now Macedonia, would consecrate the chrism for confirmation and perform the ordinations. This is but one instance of fluid and organised communion between Catholics and Orthodox around the Mediterranean that did not end with the Great Schism in 1054 (as zealous partisans on both sides will have you believe), but lasted into the 18 th century. It is the great irony of our supposedly ecumenical age that what was pragmatic and perfectly feasible for 700 Not for nothing was the foot of Italy known as Magna years is now, relatively recently, argued as theologically Græcia, or ‘greater’ Greece, as we might say. To this problematic. day, ethnic Greek communities continue in Calabria In the 15 th century, Albanian Orthodox settled in and Apulia, and the extent of eastern Christian culture is found across eastern and southern Italy – from the Sicily and southern Italy, fleeing Turkish conquests and little icons of the Mother of God and some mosaics still the threat of the enslavement and forced conversion to in Roman basilicas, to the great Byzantine churches Islam of their male children. In 1595, with the services from Venice and Ravenna, from Anagni and Naples, of an Orthodox bishop now seldom available, Pope Clement VIII provided them with their own bishop to Sicily. so that, like the Greeks, their distinctive history and Emperor Leo II in the 8 th century transferred the patrimony were not simply lost to Latinisation. south from the patriarchate of the West, governed by Rome, to that of his capital at Constantinople, Today this Eastern Christian community, with stimulating a revival of Greek Christian society and ethnic roots in the Greeks of southern Italy and Sicily civilisation. (Archimedes was born in Syracuse) and Albanians migrating across the Adriatic, and with religious roots Sicily and the Italian-Greek south under the in the monastic, cultural and theological tradition of Normans, however, returned to Rome’s governance the Byzantine east, forms the Italo-Albanian Greek in the 11 th century. The move of St Nilus’ community Catholic Church, one of the two dozen Catholic to Grottaferrata, one of hundreds of Byzantine Churches. monasteries that once thrived along southern Italy’s coasts, was part of the story of displacement as the Apart fr ѡѕ䁹ȁIЁյ)ɕɔɕ܁ȁѡ ɥѥ́ɕɥхѼаѡհݼ͕1չɼ͕٥ѡ)ͽɉѼѡ1ѥ ɍ)ɕ ѡ́ ɥѡȁɽ٥̰)AٕͤɥM)9ѡ̰ѡѕɸ ɍͥѕ)ɕͥI ѡ̸)eЁѡ́́Ё ɍѡѕɸ ɥѥ)Ʉ聙ȁɽѥЁ́݅́Ё)ٕѕȁѡɕչݕIѡ]и́ɥ䁡́ɥͥ) хѥѡāѠ䰁Iݽձ ѡɔɥ役ѡɥ)ѡ́͡=ѡ ɍ́Ѽɽ٥ȁ͍ʹ ݔ͕ѡЁѡAɥ)ѡͽѕ 酹ѥ́́ͽѡɸѕɥѽɥ̸Q́ɕɕ͕ѕѡ=ɑɥѕ́хٕ͔́)ѡɥɍє ձɥɥمѼ хѥٕɅ