Overlooking the great precipitous cliff overlooking the Aniene River, the Hermitages of St. Benedict offer an evocative and unique panorama of millennia-old reality.
It is a complex of natural and partly artificial caves, communicating both with the Monastery above and in the portion below with a dense network of tunnels, formerly the spechi of Roman aqueducts. Such a place has always been regarded as a destination for spiritual recollection and meditation.
This rock complex owes its notoriety to the stay in 503 AD of Saint Benedict from Norcia.
In this area dwelt a small community of anchorite monks, who, having lost their abbot, had the honor of welcoming St. Benedict as their new superior. The latter reluctantly accepted the post, convinced that his way of life would ill fit in with the habits of the local monks. In fact, his strict observance of the rule soon generated the displeasure of the brethren, who attempted to poison him during a dinner by putting poison in the wine cup. St. Benedict with a sign of blessing broke the cup, thus escaping certain death; and faced with such an extreme gesture, he realized that his stay was useless and left the community.
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