When God speaks, he calls to existence, and every vocation has in Him its fulfilment. Every human creature reaches his perfection only in the harmony of the project of his Creator. The realization of the will of God is the key that opens for us the door toward complete joy.
Rising in the hills about 20 Km just outside of Rome, is the Exarchic Greek Abbey of St. Mary of Grottaferrata, an ancient Catholic Monastery of Byzantine-Greek Rite that is directly dependent on the Holy See. This Monastery was founded in 1004, that is fifty years before the Great Schism separating the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. Tradition says that the Blessed Mother of God appeared to the monk St. Nilus, his disciple St. Bartholomew and their companions, asking them to build a sanctuary dedicated to Her, from whence graces would flow.
In 1054 Byzantium (Constantinople) and almost all the churches depending on this see, separated from the Church of Rome, assuming the name of ‘Orthodox Church.’ The Abbey of St. Mary’s, however, remained, and has always remained, in full communion with the Church of Rome. Hence we are Catholic. Furthermore, since we never broke communion with Rome, we are not a uniate community, a term reserved for those Orthodox communities who broke communion with Rome and who later re-united with the Roman Church. At the same time, we are an Byzantine monastic Order. We have never abandoned the Byzantine tradition, a tradition which we continue to live to the full with all its characteristics (from the Liturgy to the monastic dress, from the spiritual to the cultural formation) – characteristics which we continue to share with our orthodox brethren. Our particular Ecumenical mission in the Church flows from our history. We, the Basilian Monks of this Abbey, live to realize the ardent prayer of Jesus to the Father in the Last Supper: “so that they all may be one” (John 17:21). As Byzantine, we help the Orthodox draw closer to the Catholic Church; as Catholic, we help Roman Catholics more easily approach and understand Oriental Christianity.
Our monastic life witnesses and recalls the Unity of the undivided Church and demonstrates that there are no contradictions between being authentically Oriental and being Catholic. In fact this dimension reflects the very beginnings of Christianity. We therefore speak of a double call: first, a call to radically follow the Lord, and a call to witness the unity of the undivided Church. The Holy See, through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, safeguards, assists and protects the Catholics of Oriental rite to guarantee the perfect safety and integrity of their Traditions. Our history, as continuously Catholic and Byzantine, constitutes our Monastery as absolutely unique in the world. We monks bring this characteristic and dimension wherever we are and wherever we go.
Young men coming from any rite (Roman, Oriental) can join us in our Monastery, so long as he has the openness to a change of heart, a change of lifestyle, the desire to live a common life, and the desire to be incorporated within the Byzantine Tradition. Our monastic life is dedicated to the contemplative and the liturgical life, in the continuous search of intimacy with God. We are also dedicated to such services as: Monastic library open to the public, publication of periodicals and books, the Centre of the Restoration of the Ancient Books, teaching in the High school of our Monastery, monastic museum, and the cultivation of the earth.
Our monastery concretely collaborates with the Church’s ecumenical work for Christian Unity through dialogue and the service of charity. We contribute to the dialogue among the sister Churches first with our own daily efforts in conversion, penitence, in the ascent of prayer, in uninterrupted prayer, and, desiring to realize, with joy, the fullness of the baptismal vocation. We unceasingly invoke from the Spirit the gift of Unity of the Holy Churches of God.
We enjoy fraternal and friendly relationships with the orthodox clergy and the orthodox people, sharing reciprocal esteem and respect and joining them in the conscious service of ecumenical dialogue. We cultivate this with multiple personal and community encounters, with generous and open hospitality towards our orthodox brethren who come to us, often remaining as guests for some time. Above all, we cultivate this dialogue with prayer, humility, and our insistent entrustment into the maternal hands of the Blessed Mother of God, the guide of Christians (Theotòkos Hodigitria), whose ancient icon has for centuries been the symbolic heart and life-blood of our monastery.
The desire for Christian Unity must be kept alive and constantly nurtured with prayer. All Christians are called to help re-establish full communion among believers in Christ “once and for all” (Gd 3). Our life and our testimony pose a visible challenge to the divisions among Christians. We aim with all of our strength to realize Unity among all the Churches, believing that the will of God will be achieved.
The Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata
God Calls You
The Church Needs You
Come Join Us!
Exarchic Greek Abbey of St. Mary
Corso del Popolo, 128
00046 Grottaferrata (Rome)
Ph. (01139) 06.945.93.09
Fax (01139) 06.945.67.34