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Monastery of La Cava

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1848

Art. III. - 1. Deux Mots sur le Monasiere de La Cava. Par Guillaume de Corne, Directeur des Archives du Monastere. 2. Monasterii Sanctissimcc   Trinitatis Cava,  Ordinis Sancti Benedicti   Congregationis   Cassinensis   asserta   Privilegia Constitutionibus  Summorum Pontificum.     Romse :   Typis Reverendfe Camera; Apostolica.

One of the most delightful excursions a traveller can enjoy in the environs of Naples is undoubtedly a visit to the cele­brated monastery of La Cava, more commonly known in the neighbourhood under the name of " La Trinita." Whether he be an artist in quest of beautiful scenery, a student of an­tiquities, or a devout pilgrim, he is sure to be more than satis­fied, and to obtain at La Cava both literary and religious instruction.

The monastery is situated in a valley of the Western Apen­nines, four miles from Salerno, and about forty-six from Na­ples. Were we engaged in a literary sketch, in place of a sober archaeological narrative, we might remark, that the trav­eller is almost uncertain, at the end of his journey, whether the road is not more interesting than its termination. For, leaving Naples in the cars, you are whirled along the edge of its far-famed gulf, passing before the royal palace at Portici, then, over beds of lava, through Torre Annunziata and Torre del Greco, behind which stands Vesuvius, with its bright col­umn of smoke rising, at times, straight from its fiery basis up into mid air, like a pile of icebergs, at times bending horizon­tally before the wind, and stretching at an angle with the top of the cone far over the smiling Campania, like some gigantic serpent of glass.    Your attention is occasionally recalled to the mountain by sudden rebuffs, which at that distance sound not much louder than the puffing of the engine, but to a per­son standing on the crater assume the reality of deafening thun­der, shaking the ground beneath, and followed by volleys of cinders, and red-hot fragments of stone, and crystals, which shoot high up through the smoke, and either fall again into the chasm, or roll down its sides accompanied by streams of burn­ing lava.

You are roused from your contemplation of the wonders of nature by the train stopping near Pompeii, whose miniature palaces and lofty temples shine brightly in the sun, showing you what man was able to erect in the hour of his pride, - a monument of Vanity to Silence and Death. Angri, Sca-fati, Pagani, and Nocera are passed in rapid succession. Pa-gani is endeared to the Christian traveller by the memory of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who made it his dwelling-place for many years, and whose relics are enshrined there, beneath the altar of San Michele, the mother-house of his Order. Cava is only three or four miles beyond Nocera, and will soon be linked to Naples by the railroad which the Neapolitan govern­ment intends to carry on to Salerno.

Few parts of Italy present a view equal to that of the neigh­bourhood of La Cava for the singular contrast of wildness and beauty, the whole forming a panorama of romantic grandeur which would be more naturally expected in the mountains of Switzerland than on the smiling shores of Campania the Blest.

As you ride up the winding road that runs from the town of La Cava to the abbey, new hills seem to rise suddenly before you, while those you have passed are as suddenly lost to the eye. For a long time you enjoy only an extremely limited horizon, as the rugged path threads its way between a deep precipice on one side and a cluster of mountain-tops on the other, abruptly severed by narrow ravines, and cov­ered with wild vegetation. At an unexpected turn of the mountain-pass, the smiling valley of Cava opens beneath you far and wide, with its well-cultivated fields, its bright little town, its meandering river, and the blue hills in the dis­tance, over which the sun pours a stream of glory upon the enchanting scene.

From this point of view two objects especially attract the attention of the spectator. On the left hand, the Apennines, swelling in terrific grandeur from the valley, present to the eye their rugged sides covered with a forest of chestnuts, which form a broad mass of deep and dark foliage, and end in a lofty ridge, overtopped again by two banks of naked rock, which join together at the highest elevation, leaving beneath a Avide quadrangular opening, which appears in the distance like a great window hewn through the solid mountain-side by the hand of Nature. This phenomenon has given to the place the appellation of Monte Fenestra (Mount Window), and the effect produced by the rays of the sun shining through this sirange aperture is very striking. On the opposite side, a Capuchin convent is descried, whose little courts, gardens, and vine­yards look like a landscape traced by art on the side of the hill, which shoots still higher up into a grayish isolated rock in the form of a sugar-loaf. This eminence was formerly crowned by a little fort, the ruins of which are still found scattered about. On an evening during the Octave of ihe Corpus Dom­ini a temporary altar is erected there, and a procession wends its way up to it, the festival ending with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, given, under the broad canopy of Italy's blue sky, from that sublime height, in full view of all the inhab­itants of the valley, to their families, their dwellings, their fields, and forests. The whole ascent is illuminated by hun­dreds of torches, colored lanterns, and ranges of fireworks, the summit ending in a perfect blaze of splendor. The awful moment of the terminating ceremony is announced by a peal of martial music and the echo of innumerable volleys, the whole pageant, combined with the picturesque grandeur of the sur­rounding scenery, producing an effect which is described as truly magnificent.

But return we to the abbey. To find one's self suddenly beneath the gilded ceiling and surrounded by the stuccoed walls of the convent church, after wandering so long amongst the wild fastnesses of the rugged Apennines, is so delightful a surprise as to seem the effect of magic. This surprise is not lessened at discovering what treasures are contained in this happy wilderness. It will not, we hope, prove unacceptable to our readers, if, before describing them, we give a brief account of the origin and early history of the monastery.

The date of its foundation has not been established with precision, but Pellegrini and Mabillon refer it to the beginning of the eleventh century. About the year 1006, a monk of illustrious lineage, whose family was allied to the Lombard princes of Salerno, but who was still more distinguished by his virtues than by his noble birth, departed that city, where he had the direction of several monastic institutions, to find a soli­tude where he might lead a life of penance and prayer, far remote from the noise and vanity of a deceitful world. He discovered a spot answering his pious intentions in one of the wildest defiles of the Metellian valley, called Cava arsiccia, which name was afterwards given to the town situated a mile and a half from the convent. The holy recluse chose for his dwelling an humble hermitage, which a monk of Monte Cassino, called Liutius, had erected long before in the midst of the wilderness, hoping to enjoy in its secluded cell that peace and retirement of which Monte Cassino had been de­prived, in consequence of the intrusive election of an abbot sustained by the secular power.

The odor of the sanctity of Alpherio Pappacarbone, for this was the name of the new inhabitant of La Cava, soon began to diffuse itself abroad. A numerous band of pious persons, who like himself were weary of the world, and desired to embrace a life of perfection, came to put themselves under his guidance. Alpherio with great reluctance consented to assume the direction of these good brethren, and, obeying the myste­rious decrees of Providence, which did not permit him to re­main in the obscurity he had so anxiously sought after, erected in due time a convent and church in that solitary place. The hymn of praise was heard to swell upon the mountain breeze from the lips of a numerous choir, and the steam of the censer soared towards the skies from recesses untrodden before by the foot of man. Alpherio dedicated the new institution to the Ever-blessed Trinity, and taught his twelve companions the rule of Cluny as he had learned it in the monastery of San Michele della Chiusa in Savoy. While ambassador at the court of the Emperor Otho the Third, he had been forced by illness during a journey to apply for hospitality at the above-mentioned monastery, where he received the habit at the hands of the venerable Abbot Odilon.

Several years had elapsed, during which Alpherio trained up his disciples in a life of piety united with study, when he was gathered to his fathers in a good old age. He was succeeded in the abbacy by Leo of Lucca, and then by his nephew, Peter Pappacarbone, who, at the request of Leo, had come to their monastery from Cluny.

The remains of these venerable abbots repose in the church originally built by their hands, and are justly venerated as the relics of saints.    Under their direction, the abbey increased in reputation, and many of the inhabitants of the neighbouring valleys came to put themselves under its protection. Many flourishing townships were formed in this manner during the Middle Ages, not only in Italy, but in Germany, France, and England. The abbey, invested with the rights of a landlord, formed the nucleus of the increasing settlement, which was protected by the shield of religion, and, when it became neces­sary, by the sword of the abbot, who was not backward in defending his tenants, if the insolent feudal seignior, the maraud­ing Saracen, or the lawless bandit dared to attack them be­neath the shade of the convent walls. The origin of the town of Cava is usually dated, according to Eustace, from the inva­sion of Genseric, and the destruction of the neighbouring town of Marciana, whose inhabitants took shelter in the mountains, and, at the persuasion of the abbot, settled around the monas­tery.

It is unfortunate that the accomplished classical tourist did not find leisure to pay a visit to the abbey, as he would doubt­less have met there some further poetical coincidences to show that we Catholics are not, after all, quite so unamiable as might be supposed, and that our religion may be even brought finally to harmonize with the enlightened spirit of the age, if our affable Protestant masters will deign to encourage it with the dews of their piety, and beautify it with the irradiations of their superior wisdom.*(footnote: On a reperusal of these expressions, we are led to fear lest they be taken as a slur upon the memory of the amiable author of the Classical Tour through Italy. But our allusions are wholly directed to his book, which has been so much read and so highly praised by Protestants. The spirit of the work, as far as religion is concerned, is, wo fear, but too accurately described above- It is said that Eustace, in his later years, often expressed his regret that the work had ever been published. Per­haps, if the times he lived in and the connections amongst whom lie moved had been different, he would not have obscured the lustre of his fine talents by a defence of his religion, the servile and yielding spirit of which is the most cruel libel he could have penned against it, albeit interspersed with expressions of sincere attachment to the Church.
The Catholic religion cannot be justified on the grounds of Protestant­ism, as Christ cannot be proved amiable or agreeable according to the principles of the world. If Protestants do not like the Church such as she is, so much the worse for themselves. She will never soften down, or explain away, the austerity of her doctrines to suit their fancy, or come to a compromise to allure them to her communion ; and it is both treacherous to her, and unfeeling towards them, to describe her in such a manner as to induce them to believe that they can be welcomed in by her, without abandoning altogether those sentiments, maxims, and habits which fitted them to move with applause outside, They have been led to understand pretty well that Christ and the Devil are enemies, but they want to be persuaded a little better that the former can never agree with the world and the flesh.   God help them !--end of footnote)
The monastery was in its highest degree of splendor, when Pope Urban the Second, who had been compelled, by the rudeness of the times, to seek refuge in Salerno, governed by the Duke Roger Bursa, became desirous to give a token of his friendship to its inmates by consecrating the newly erected church of the Most Holy Trinity. Urban had formerly been a monk of Cluny, under the name of Odon, and, having fol­lowed the Abbot Peter to La Cava, he had passed several years within its walls.

Among the privileges granted by Urban to the monks, the most remarkable one is the elevation of Peter to the dignity of a bishop. The Duke Roger likewise invested the abbot and his successors with temporal dominion over all the lands of the abbey. The monks made use of this power to protect the neighbourhood from the incursions of the numerous petty princes whose turbulent spirit never permitted them to live in peace with their vassals, or in friendship with their neighbours. The Abbot Costabile, by the erection of Castel Abate, pro­vided a refuge for the inhabitants of Licosia, as Peter Pappa-carbone had done for the vassals of the convent spread over the Marcine valley by the construction of the stronghold called Corpo della Cava.

Nor is this the only obligation the inhabitants of the country are under to the Benedictines. During centuries of ignorance and barbarism, their convent-walls were the asylum of science and literature, as their precious archives amply testify. Far from the gaze of the world, the Italian monk spent his life in transcribing the works of the Fathers, and the classics, while the ancestors of those who now upbraid his memory with the sacrilegious epithets of lazy, useless, and ignorant, were set­ting fire to palaces and churches, and tumbling to earth the stately monuments of Roman grandeur and ingenuity.

Through each succeeding age, the monastery of La Cava continued to be exemplary in the maintenance of religious dis­cipline, and in its love for learning, until the introduction of commendatary or honorary abbots caused a degree of relaxa­tion in its cloisters which was found necessary to repress by efficacious measures.    Cardinal Carafa, the last commendatary abbot, began the good work by resigning, with permission of Pope Alexander tbe Sixth, his abbacy into the hands of the Benedictine congregation of St. Justin of Padua. Through the vigilance of the new superiors of the monastery, the influ­ence of ancient authority was reasserted, and studies were resumed with an ardor which made several names dear to the republic of letters.

In the sixteenth century, the town of La Cava, which had been elevated by Benedict the Ninth to the rank of a city in 1394, ungrateful to its faithful protectors, was led by the spirit of the age to get weary of its ancient lords and their patriarchal sway. The Order yielded to the earnest solicitations of the citizens, and the abbot made over to them the rights of tem­poral jurisdiction with which his predecessors had been in­vested. The city of La Cava was subsequently elevated to the rank of a bishopric, but the other domains of the abbey remained in its possession. Things continued in this state down to the days when the French conquerors, marching into Naples, drove the bishop from his cathedral, and the monks from their convent, substituting the musket for the crozier, and the roll of the drum for the music of the psalms.

Fortunately the rapacity of the invaders spared the precious archives of the monastery. They were not dispersed, nor sold at auction, nor stuffed ignominiously into boxes to be carried to Paris, as it was customary to do in similar cases, but, being considered a section of the records of the kingdom, they were confided to persons who guarded them with praiseworthy vigi­lance. After the fall of Joachim Murat, the most humane ty­rant of his day, and the return of the Bourbons, the monks regained peaceful possession of their ancient home, and of the treasures of learning which it contains.

After this outline of the history of the convent, taken from chronicles preserved in it, we will proceed to say something of the attractions it has for a traveller. The church, which seems at first sight to start up, as if by enchantment, in the midst of crags and forests, is nearly overhung by the jutting brow of a rock that protects it on the northern side. It is more to be admired for its solidity, a necessary precaution in a mountain­ous neighbourhood visited at times by tremendous storms, than for the beauty of its architecture. In the vestibule is to be remarked the tomb of Queen Sybilla, wife of Roger, king of Sicily. The style of the interior is a mixture of Greek and Roman.    The organ-loft is an elegant piece of workmanship, in the Gothic style, tastefully executed by Chevalier Petrelli. The fame of the organ of La Cava has spread all over Eu­rope. It has eighty-four stops, and three key-boards of six octaves each. Nine thousand francs were spent, not long ago, merely to add new instruments to it. The whole receives life from one enormous pair of bellows, the breath of which is made at pleasure to imitate the sound of almost every known instrument. The builders of this celebrated organ were Qui-rico and Gaetano Gennaro of Lanciano, whose names have been made the theme of their praises by nearly all European periodicals.

The chapel on the right, ornamented with a profusion of rare marbles and precious stones, contains the relics of St. Alpherio, and his three immediate successors in the govern­ment of the abbey. In the nave of the main altar, on the same side, there is an inscription which refers to the consecration of the church by Urban the Second, in 1092, and opposite to that a piece of marble in the wall, which bears a kind of in­verted mitre. This device, which is evidently symbolical, has given rise to the strangest conjectures. That which sup­poses the said marble slab to cover the tomb of the Antipope Burdin, exiled to the monastery of La Cava to do penance for the disturbances he had created, is not the least curious. As this conjecture has no sure foundation in history, perhaps the symbol in question is nothing but the escutcheon of a knight buried at a remote period in that part of the church.

The secluded position and fortified walls of the convent pro­tected its archives from those lamentable inroads which dis­persed the literary treasures of many other abbeys. There is nowhere else to be found a collection of documents so ancient, so important, so well preserved, and so judiciously arranged. Mabillon calls this collection integerrimum. The admirers of the Dark Jlges (amongst the foremost of whom, humble as we are, we count ourselves) find in this sanctuary vast records of the utmost importance to history, and a rich collection of laws, customs, deeds, formularies, and donations, the consideration of which is indispensable to him who would form a just idea of those times, so indiscriminately misrepresented and so little understood. Before mentioning a few of the most remarkable documents, we cannot refrain from paying a just tribute of praise to the venerable religious for the neatness and order with which the archives are kept. The well-written catalogue formed by  their patience and industry furnishes the curious with the most satisfactory classification. In the first column, each diploma or charter is specified ; in the same line on ihe ensuing columns is found its number, the year, the month, and indiction of its date, the name of the prince or king under whom it issued, the kind of writing it exhibits, the qtiality of its seal, and, finally, a summary of its contents. A new chronological catalogue has likewise been written, in alphabeti­cal order, in the form of a dictionary.

The archives are composed of forty thousand parchments, upwards of sixty thousand acts of different kinds, and about sixteen hundred bulls and diplomas.

The first act in this long list is dated A. D. 840. By it, Radelchis, Prince of Benevento, grants to the Abbot of St. Sophia the possessions of a certain Lambayard forfeited by the crime of rebellion. Two oilier diplomas famous in the history of La Cava refer to some of its earliest endowments. One bears the date of 1025, and the other of the following year. By them, Waimher the Third, Prince of Salerno, makes a donation to the abbey of the valley which Alpherio had chosen for the site of its erection, and of the surrounding woods, which had hitherto been hunting-grounds of the prince. To this donation he adds ample privileges and exemptions. The seal of Waimher is a pendent one of wax, on one side of which is a bust of the prince, with his crown and sceptre, and the inscription Waimaius Princeps, and on the reverse the closed hand of Justice. By another act, a subsequent Prince Waimher, styled, nevertheless, the Wicked in the Cava chron­icle, grants to the convent of St. Maximus of Salerno the property and person of a certain Lupo, with his wife, his chil­dren, and grandchildren, for having treasonably acted as guide to the Saracens, when they besieged Salerno in 870. It is remarkable, that, not long after, having been dethroned by his rebel subjects, Waimher the Wicked was obliged to seek refuge in this same monastery. The document is signed 899, and, although of little importance in itself, it settles the date of important historical events.

To the right, upon entering the archives, is perceived a cele­brated diploma of Roger, king of Sicily, dated in the first year of his reign, 1130. The king yields up to the monks of La Cava extensive lands in Sicily, and a goodly number of Christian and Saracen vassals. The diploma bears a golden seal, with an impression of our Saviour standing with a book in his hand, and on the reverse a full-length portrait of Rogerdressed in a Dalmatica, the robe of a deacon. This is in­tended, most probably, to show his dignity of legate a latere of the Pope in Sicily. At the end of the writ is an autograph signature of the Norman leader in Greek letters.

There is to be found, likewise, an act of Baldwin the Sixth, king of Jerusalem, dated anno 1 IS 1, which giants free navi­gation to the ships of the monastery in the waters of Syria.

There is an act which speaks of the morgengabe, or morn­ing-gift which the bridegroom gave to the bride the morning after their marriage. A law of King Luitprand expressly es­tablishes that the morgengabe is in no case to exceed the fourth part of the donor's property ! A verdict of the year 844 condemns a certain Theodelgard to pay the sum of nine hun­dred pence, in reparation of her injured honor, to a maiden of free condition. Upon Theodelgard's declaring himself unable to advance the sum, the act mentions that the judge seized him by the hair, and handed him over to the offended party as se­curity for its payment. An act of 1053 gives the exact meas­ure of the foot used by the Lombards ; and another, in which Nicholas, Count of the Principate, grants extensive lands to the abbey per fusletn, is attached to a small wooden roll, which bears the inscription, Nicolaus Comes P. R. C. A privilege granted by Pope Alexander the Fourth deserves attention for the title which he takes, of Supreme Lord of Sicily.

In a bull of Urban the Second, issued at the time he conse­crated the church of the Blessed Trinity, the Pope confirms, in virtue of the same authority, and at the humble request of Roger, the privileges granted by this prince to the monastery. We may remark, in passing, that among these privileges there is the singular faculty by force of which the religious could save from death any person condemned by the secular power. We may be permitted to express a thought which passed before our minds in recording it, -• what interesting use might be made of this privilege in works of fiction, the scene of which lay in the Middle Ages !

The bulls published by different Popes, and preserved at La Cava, amount to five hundred and sixty. An exposition of their contents would certainly be interesting, but few of them remain unpublished. The few we inspected contained grants of jurisdictional power to the monastery, chiefly by Urban the Second, Paschal the Second, Alexander the Third, and Gregory the Fourteenth.

The convent library is not remarkable for the number of its books, but it has a magnificent collection of manuscripts and rare editions. The manuscripts, of which there are more than sixty, from the seventh down to the fourteenth century, are in different respects highly valuable.     We will mention,-

The book of Bede on the history of Italy from the ninth
to the tenth century, the margins of which are covered with
interesting notes, written from year to year by contemporary
witnesses.     These valuable notes have been published by Mu-
ratori, in his great collection of Italian writers, but unfortunately
with not much accuracy.
Two  manuscripts  of the  fourteenth  century, elegantly
written and beautifully illuminated.
We have purposely reserved  for the last two of those
delightful rarities which the learned traveller must not expect
to meet with more than once at every six hundred miles, and
over which he gloats with the eagerness of a worldly-minded
gourmand who has a favorite dish, not seen for a considerable
time, placed unexpectedly before him.    One is a Latin Bible
of the seventh century, so exquisitely written and so entirely
preserved, that it cannot be viewed without amazement, con­
sidering its antiquity.    Its neat and regular pages present five
different kinds of writing.    In the capitals the uncial charac­
ters  predominate, and in the text the  small Roman  letters,
amongst which last there is an occasional resemblance to the
ancient Lombard.    This precious manuscript contains all the
books of the Old and New Testament, but they are arranged
differently from the usual order.    The Psalms, of which there
is one more than elsewhere, present several variations, which
are foufld, also, in the Old  Italic version, circumstances that
prove the antiquity of the manuscript. (footnote* We will add to this description the remarks of Dr. Wiseman upon this celebrated manuscript, which have been pointed out to us since this was written. We copy from the first of his Two Letters on some Parts of the Controversy concerning 1 John v. 7.
" The first document to which I beg the attention of critics is the beau­tiful manuscript of the Vulgate preserved in the venerable Benedictine
abbey of La Cava, situated between Naples and Salerno When
visiting that part of Italy some years ago, I turned aside to the monastery, chiefly for the purpose of inspecting it. I have, however, found still more favorable opportunity to study its text. For the indefatigable libra­rian of the Vatican, Monsignor (now Cardinal) Mai, considered this manuscript of sufficient value to deserve an exact transcription. This was ordered by Pope Leo XII., and in the course of last summer (1834) the last sheets were deposited in the Vatican library by Father Rossi, the archivist of La Cava.    It will be difficult at a distance to estimate the labor and trouble with which this transcript has been effected. It contains the Old and New Testaments, copied line for line, and word for word, with an exact imitation of the painted and ornameij^al parts.
 The original manuscript is written on  a beautiful   vellum, in
large quarto; each page, like the celebrated Vatican (120'J), contains three columns. There is no division between the words except by an occasional point. The character is exceedingly minute ; the initial letters of paragraphs are somewhat larger and stand out of the lines; the mar­ginal notes are written so small as to require a good lens in order to de­cipher them. A very detailed description has, however, heen published by the Abbe Razan, who has carefully collected all those characteristics which can have weight in deciding its age. I will give the result of his investigation." The Abbe winds up, rather unexpectedly, by con­cluding that the manuscript is-only a thousand years old, agreeing with Cardinal Mai in attributing it at least to the seventh century.
The marginal notes refer to the errors of the day. For example, opposite the famous text of John v. 7, the comment says, " Aud'iat hoc Arius ct catcri." Were a monk of our days commenting on the Holy Bible in the same convent, on the same stool, near the same altar, he would probably write, in the same spirit, opposite some other text, " Au~ dial hoc Fourier, Pusey, Iiongc, et alii.1'--end of footnote)
The second rare manuscript alluded to is a Lombard code of the tenth century. It is the most ancient collection of Lombard laws in existence, and teems with the most precious items of information. This manuscript, in 1642, furnished Camillo Pellegrini with six treatises, which he has published in the History of the Lohxbard Princes, Mabillon, the histo­rian Giannone, Pratilli, and the Abbe de Razan, and, still more recently, Carlo Troja, consulted it with success on sev­eral important points. When the writer of the present article visited La Cava, in 1846, Father de Corne, then director of the archives, was engaged in the laborious task of illustrating this important remnant of the Middle Ages with explanatory, historical, and philological notes, and was in hopes to be able to publish it in due time, with his copious and erudite com­mentary.

What distinguishes the library of La Cava is a collection of more than six hundred volumes of the earliest editions issued after the invention of the art of printing. We will mention in particular a book beautifully printed at Mayence in 1467 ; the well-known Bible of Hailbronn of 1476 ; the first editions of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Eusebius ; and the first edition of the golden little treatise De Imitatione Christi. Moreover, St. Augustine De Civitnte Dei, printed by the Benedictines of Subiaco (if we remember well) in 1465, the first book ever printed in Italy.    There is also a Juvenal of 147S; a Tibullus of 1488 ; and, finally, Boccaccio's book Be Genealogia Deorum, printed for the first time at Reggio, an edition of the rarest value.

The library of La Cava likewise possesses four hundred impressions in the black letter. In running over these works, an idea can be had of the variations undergone by that Gothic character, so pertinaciously adhered to for a long time, then all but universally abandoned. The Germans are the only people who have preserved an alphabet somewhat similar to the old-fashioned calligraphy. Fortunate for them, had they adhered with equal fidelity to far more important institutions venerated by their Catholic ancestors, and not permitted the unfrocked Augustinian of Wittenberg to make use of the honest, though somewhat unwieldy, gear of their ideas to dizen out a new gospel for mankind !

In examining the earliest productions of the press, the cu­rious are often surprised, while turning over the leaves of books, the strong white paper of which, the even, neat, and clear type, is scarcely equalled by the best specimens of our own times, after all the myriad inventions and improvements of three centuries.

We have only to mention a few of the most beautiful paint­ings which adorn the quarters occupied by the abbot, and then bid adieu to La Cava.

We will do it briefly, mentioning, -

A Sacra Famiglia on wood, attributed to Raphael, and
at least one of the finest productions of that school of smiles
and sunbeams.
Two paintings by Pielro Perugino ; viz. The Adoration
of the Magi and The Resurrection of our Saviour.
An Assumption by Andrea Sabatini of Salerno, a scholar
of Raphael.
Judith, by Hundorst, better known as Gherardo delle
Notti.    According to the well-known style of this master, the
whole scene is artificially illuminated from one point, and the
effect produced is strikingly allied to reality.
Jacob, disguised as Esau, receiving the blessing of his
aged father, by the same artist.

The Burial of our Saviour.    The author is Jacopo da
Ponte, commonly called II Bassano.
St. Jerome, by Mattias, a Calabrian priest.    There is in
the convent a  St. Augustine, by the same author, which we
did not see, but it was represented to us as possessing great
 All these are admirable, more or less, for their particular perfections. But the writer will never forget the ecstasy of surprise and emotion with which he stood for a considerable time contemplating a Muter Dolorosa, by that gentle and feel­ing master, Carlino Dolce. The artist must have been pos­sessed by a poetical desire to produce, living and breathing, the heavenly vision which existed in his imagination, and he has been half successful. In the features of the Blessed Mother there is a radiance of celestial beauty, tempered and spiritual­ized by noble, unaffected modesty, that is truly inimitable. The delicate form seems to stand out from the canvas, and the beautiful hands, which she holds joined before her breast, are of such astonishing perfection, that the more they are ex­amined, the more you are inclined to believe them real and not painted. The composition and finish of the drapery leave nothing to be desired.
But these are the minor beauties of the painting. The artist has contrived to give such a settled expression of resigned yet deep grief to the heavenly features of the bereaved Mother, to the eyes, to the mouth, and breast heaving with a long-drawn sigh which relieves not the heart, that the beholder inevitably feels the influence of sorrow in his own breast. For our own part, we could not help remembering the words, " 0 vos omncs qui transitis per viam, atlendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor mem," which the Church applies to the Blessed Virgin, bereaved of her divine Son by our sins. We lifted up our hearts to the Mother of Jesus with the appeal of the Litany, - " llegina Martyrum, ora pro nobis."

9. Another piece, the healthy and natural cast of which is very remarkable, is a Judgment of St. Benedict. It is by Albert Durer. A youthful monk, guilty of some flagrant trans­gression of the rules, is brought before the saint by another monk who stands as his accuser. St. Benedict is seated. His mild and charitable look is that of a man in whom paternal authority is directed by wisdom and virtue. Before him stands the young man, whose pale, unsettled features, downcast look, and timid attitude belie the exculpation which he attempts to deliver. By his side is another monk, of maturer years, whose hard and sunburnt countenance, though bearing the expression of severity, still make you believe him to act only from an honest sense of duty, while with pointing finger he shows the companion whose fault he is repeating to their superior. The last figure is that of a monk whose salient forehead, and eyes vaguely turned towards the culprit, are a fine portrait of un­concerned curiosity, and contrast with the earnestness of the others. The distribution of light, the simplicity of compo­sition, the nature and truthfulness of the parts, and, above all, the masterly execution of the heads, do immortal honor to the Nuremberg artist.

This is a brief notice of the celebrated Wonasterium Cavense, written partly from our own recollections, but mostly taken from a description of it printed by Father Guillaurne de Cornc, of whom we made honorable mention in another place, and the title of whose pamphlet we have placed at the head of this article. To this gentleman, who is distinguished at once by the characteristic courtesy of the Benedictines and the learning which is hereditary in his Order, we acknowledge ourselves doubly indebted for his oral and written illustrations of the treasures of the abbey.

The monastery has been visited from time to time by sev­eral of the crowned heads and princes of Europe, and by nearly every savant who travelled as far as Pompeii ; and amongst a vast number of celebrated names which we saw in a blank book on the library table, we remember to have observed that of Cardinal Mai, and the well-known handwriting of Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford.

The hardy monk of St. Bernard built his hermitage in the marshy valley, which was afterwards rendered a garden by his toil and industry. The unassuming Franciscan devotes his life to the religious instruction of the poor, in hamlets and villages spread over the country. The affable Jesuit consecrates his energy and learning to the training up of the youth in populous cities, where they are exposed to the perverse influence of a world refined in wickedness. But the erudite Benedictine is to be found in his cell, on the brow of some rugged mountain, enriching with comments the page of an early Father, pruning the redundancy of annals penned centuries ago by some less keen-sighted brother, or putting the heresies of the day to blush by bringing to bear upon them the steady light of Scrip­tural and traditionary evidence. So the varied usefulness of the different Orders is expressed in an old distich : -

" Bernardus vallcs, monies Benedictus amabat, Franciscus pagos, mugnns Ignatius urbes."

We have endeavoured to relieve the seriousness of more weighty disquisitions by giving in this lighter article a sample of what a section of one religious Order has done for religion, science, and civilization. A work has been issued lately in Italy by Father Tosti, descriptive of the abbey of Monte Cas-sino, containing its history to the present time, an account of the trensures it contains, and a collection of notes and docu­ments of great value ; thus showing what another section of the same Order did for the same cause. Who is ignorant of the Herculean labors of the Maurine Congregation of St. Benedict, and of their admirable fruits ? Nevertheless, those who are in the habit of profiting by the works of the learned and holy monks will still cry out that they were an idle encumbrance to society ! Of such men and their advisers we will say no more, but hope better at least from you, good reader, concluding in the words with which the religious writer of the second little work whose title is prefixed to this article concludes his Preface : - " Hcec, henevole lector, quovis partium studio amoto lubens accipe., teque omnibus precibus obte$tamur> ut divi Bene-dicti sobolem vclusto amore prosequaris."