The Benedictine monastery erected in the 6th century on a rocky height some 80 miles south of Rome was an architectural masterpiece, revered these 1500 years by the inhabitants who resided within this imposing site, let alone by those countless scholars, admirers and believers who have followed the line of history attached to this magnificent place. Although the monastery has been attacked and damaged or destroyed several times by war during the past millennium and a half, it has been rebuilt as many times, and remains one of the world's great examples of man's devotion to a greater power as well as a magnificent art form.
In 1944, with the Allies pushing northward toward Rome, some four battles were fought at Monte Cassino before it was wrested away from Hitler's army, with a contingent of Polish soldiers being chosen to place their flag in the ruins of the monastery as a recognition of the Allies' sense of justice regarding the Nazi rape of Warsaw in 1939.
Interestingly, in one of the rare cases of deference bestowed upon a religion by the nihilist forces of Hitlerism, the Abbe of Monte Cassino was allowed, with a group of his followers, to live within the monastery during this period of conflict, and the German soldiers were ordered not to occupy this place.
Sadly, there were enough in the position of power within the Allies who believed (mistakenly) that the Germans had occupied the monastery, and ordered that the place be destroyed by bombing, which did occur. Ironically, the rubble produced by the destruction became prime defensive positions for the Germans, and so they occupied the ruins of Monte Cassino - one of the many tragedies of the greatest conflict in man's history.
At any rate, the Allies prevailed, and shortly after the battle was won, Rome was declared an Open City by the Nazi tyrant, and soon Italy was cleared by the advancing Allies.
Just a reminder that the incalculable power of both the truth of man's art and the power of faith can sometimes cause even a tyrannical entity to ponder about its decisions.
Labels: the power of Art and Faith