A chapel on the left side of the Lower Church contains the holiest place in the monastery, the Sacred Cave (Sacro Speco) of St. Benedict. Here Benedict lived alone as a hermit for three years around 500 AD. Twelve red lamps hang over the cave, representing Benedict's twelve monastic foundations at Subiaco. The chapel contains an altar with a 13th-century Cosmatesque frontal; in the cave itself is a soulful marble statue of the saint by Antonio Raggi (1657), disciple of Bernini. Benedict is shown as a young man, his arms folded across his chest while he meditates on the cross.
Credit: Holly Hayes