Grottaferrata, Church and Monastery of St Mary
|11AD - 12AD
|Corso del Popolo, 128, 00046 Grottaferrata RM, Italy
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At Grottaferrata, the abbey and church of S Mary was reputedly founded by St Nilus in 1004 on the site of a Roman villa. Nilus was from a Greek family in Calabria and the abbey followed the Greek rite, though in communion with the Roman church. The construction was completed by the time of his fourth successor as abbot, Bartolomeus, and consecrated by Pope John XIX (1024-32) by 1024. It was a grand building, incorporating a lot of spolia, presumably from the villa, and contained mosaic, though the extent of the ensemble is unknown. Mosaics survive in the inner narthex (a deesis) and on the triumphal arch (Pentecost and saints, usually dated to the early twelfth century). The deesis panel shows Christ blessing, situated between the Virgin and St. John the Baptist; a figure at their feet may be St Nilus or Abbot Bartolomeus; Christ holds a book whose Greek text reads, appositely, ‘I am the door; those who enter by me shall find salvation’. It has been dated to the eleventh century, as well as to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.