samedi 26 septembre 2015

Saint NIL le jeune (de ROSSANO), abbé et fondateur

Saint Nil de Rossano

Fondateur de l'abbaye de Grottaferrata ( 1005)

Ce Calabrais était un haut fonctionnaire d'origine grecque, comme beaucoup dans cette région. Il s'était converti à la mort de sa femme et fonda un monastère à Grottaferrata dans le Latium. Ce monastère basiléen (qui suit la Règle monastique de Saint Basile) existe encore.

Voir aussi sur Myriobiblos (Eglise de Grèce):

"Saint Nil n'est pas mentionné dans les synaxaires byzantins. Nous l'ajoutons ici non seulement pour son intérêt propre, mais aussi pour signaler l'importance de la présence monastique byzantine en Italie du Sud, région qui, avec la Sicile, resta attachée à l'Église Orthodoxe jusqu'au 15-16e siècle."
Dans la campagne de Tusculum, près de Rome, en 1004 ou 1005, saint Nil, abbé. Né en Calabre dans une famille grecque, il s’appliqua à mener la vie monastique en Calabre et en Campanie, sans se laisser arrêter par les difficultés de son temps, puis fonda à Grottaferrata un monastère célèbre selon la Règle de saint Basile, et y mourut à l’âge de quatre-vingt-dix ans.

Martyrologe romain

Saint Nil de Rossano

Abbé de St Adrien en Calabre

Fête le 26 septembre

Rossano, Calabre, prov. de Cosenza, 910 – † 1004

Autre graphie : Nil de Rossano ou de Calabre

Il devint moine à la mort de sa femme et de sa fille, et après avoir vécu dans différents monastères, fut nommé abbé de S. Adriano (Saint-Adrien), près de San Demetrio Corone, aux confins de la Calabre et de la Lucanie. Lui et ses moines durent fuir devant les Sarrasins en 981 et furent, pour un temps, hébergés au Mont-Cassin. Il mourut juste avant la construction de son monastère, à Grottaferrata, dans le Latium (abbaye du XIe siècle de rite orthodoxe). Rossano, patrie de saint Nil, fut la capitale du monachisme grec en Occident ainsi qu’une des plus puissantes citadelles de l’empire byzantin.

L’abbaye de Grottaferrata, aux environs de Rome (entre Frascati et Albano Laziale), fut fondée par saint Nil en 1004 sur l’emplacement d’une villa romaine et d’une chambre sépulcrale, aménagée en oratoire chrétien (Ve siècle) et dont les fenêtres portaient une double grille de fer (d’où « Crypta Ferrata » et plus tard Grottaferrata). L’abbaye est restée fidèle au rite byzantin-grec de ses origines, importée de la Calabre byzantine par son fondateur et ses compagnons. Saint Nil de Calabre fonda en 1004 l’ordre basilien italien de Grottaferrata (confirmé en 1579). L’abbaye catholique de rite byzantin Saint-Nil, à Grottaferrata, dans les environs de Rome, célèbre aujourd’hui la fête de son saint fondateur, mais aussi le millénaire de sa fondation (1004-2004).


September 26

St. Nilus the Younger, Abbot

THIS saint was of Grecian extraction, and born at Rossana in Calabria, in 910. From his infancy he was fervent in religious duties, and in the practice of all virtues, and made considerable progress both in profane and sacred learning. He engaged in wedlock with a view to the sanctification of his soul by the faithful discharge of the duties of that holy state, and was careful in it to nourish and improve the sentiments of virtue in his heart by frequent hours of holy retirement. These he devoted to religious meditation, reading, and prayer, lest the seeds of piety should be choked amidst the cares and business of the world. Though his attention to his obligations as a Christian held the first place with him, this was so far from encroaching on his duties to others, that it made him more diligent in them. But then he was careful to shun idle conversation, and the vain pleasures and diversions of the world, which are apt to blot out those serious thoughts which are impressed upon our minds in the time of holy retirement. After the death of his wife, his love of solitude moved him to take sanctuary in his beloved harbour of a monastery, from the embarrassments of a public life, and the glittering temptations of the world. He therefore retired about the year 940, into a convent belonging to the church of St. John Baptist at Rossana, where his mind was entirely employed in conversing with God. The reputation of his extraordinary sanctity was soon spread over the whole country, and many repaired to him for spiritual advice. In 976 the archbishop Theophylactus, metropolitan of Calabria, with the lord of that territory, named Leo, many priests and others went to see him, rather desiring to try his erudition and skill, than to hear from his mouth any lessons for their edification. The abbot knew their intention, but having saluted them courteously, and made a short prayer with them, he put into the hands of Leo a book in which were contained certain maxims concerning the small number of the Elect, which seemed to the company too severe. But the saint undertook to prove them to be clearly founded in the principles laid down, not only by St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Ephrem, St. Theodore the Studite, and other fathers, but even by St. Paul, and the gospel itself; adding, in the close of his discourse: “These maxims seem dreadful, but they only condemn the irregularity of your deportment. Unless your lives be altogether holy, you will not escape everlasting torments.” These words struck terror into all who heard the saint speak, which they expressed by deep sighs and groans. One of the company then asked the abbot, whether Solomon was damned or saved? To which he replied: “What does it concern us to know whether he be saved or no? But it behoves you to reflect, that Christ denounces damnation against all persons who commit impurity.” This he said, knowing the person who put that question to be addicted to that vice. The saint added: “I would desire rather to know whether you will be damned or saved. As for Solomon, the holy scripture makes no mention of his repentance, as it does of that of Manasses.”

Euphraxus, a vain and haughty nobleman, was sent governor of Calabria from the imperial court at Constantinople. St. Nilus made him no presents upon his arrival, as other abbots did; on which account the governor sought every occasion of mortifying the servant of God. But shortly after falling sick, he sent for the saint, and falling on his knees, begged his pardon and prayers, and desired to receive the monastic habit from his hands. St. Nilus refused a long time to give it him, saying: “Your baptismal vows are sufficient for you. Penance requires no new vows, but a sincere change of heart and life.” Euphraxus was not to be satisfied, and continued so urgent, that the saint at length gave him the habit. The governor made all his slaves free, distributed his personal estate among the poor, and died three days after in great sentiments of compunction.

 St. Nilus refused the bishopric of Capua, and rejected pressing invitations to go to Constantinople; but the Saracens conquering Calabria, Aligern, abbot of Mount Cassino, bestowed on him the abbey of Bright-Valley, where St. Nilus took refuge with his community. He spent there fifteen years; then ten years in the monastery of Serperi.

The emperor Otho III. coming to Rome to expel Philagatus, bishop of Placentia, whom the senator Crescentius had set up antipope against Gregory V., St. Nilus went to intercede with the pope and emperor, that the antipope might be treated with mildness, as he was a bishop, and was received with great honour. Otho making a pilgrimage to Mount Gargano, paid a visit to St. Nilus, but was surprised to see his monastery consisting of poor scattered huts, and said: “These men are truly citizens of heaven, who live in tents as strangers on earth.” St. Nilus conducted the emperor first to the oratory, and after praying there some time, entertained him in his cell Otho pressed the saint to accept some spot of ground, in whatever part of his dominions he should choose it, promising to endow it with competent revenues. St. Nilus thanked his majesty: but returned him this answer: “If my brethren are truly monks, our divine Master will not forsake them when I am gone.” In taking leave, the emperor said to him: “Ask what you please, as if you were my son: I will give it you with joy and pleasure.” The abbot laying his hand upon the emperor’s breast, said: “The only thing I ask of you is, that you would save your soul. Though emperor, you must die, and give an account to God, like other men.” Our saint was remarkable for an eminent spirit of prophecy, of which many instances are recorded in his life. In his old age in 1002, he retired to Tusculum, near Rome, where he died in 1005, being about ninety-six years old. A community was formed in that place after his death, called of Grotto Ferrata, at Frescati, which still follows the rule of St. Basil. See the life of St. Nilus, compiled by a disciple of the saint in Baronius, Annal. t. 10. Fleury, l. 57. n. 5. D’Andilly Saints Illustres. Barrius De Antiquitate Calabriæ cum notis Thomæ Aceti, l. 5. c. 2. p. 362, 366. St. John of Meda. Richard Dict, p. 318.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


San Nilo da Rossano

Rossano Calabro (CS), 910 - Monastero di Sant’Agata, Grottaferrata (RM), 26 settembre 1004
L'Italia meridionale conosce i monaci d'Oriente con la loro liturgia al tempo del dominio bizantino. Con l'espansione araba la Calabria si popola di comunità guidate dalla regola di san Basilio, che attirano anche discepoli del posto. Come un calabrese di Rossano, Nicola, che diventerà monaco col nome di Nilo (910-1004). Vive prima in comunità, poi si fa eremita, con dedizione totale a preghiera e studio. Legge i Padri della Chiesa, compone inni, trascrive testi con grafia rapida ed elegante. È maestro di nuovi monaci a Rossano, con un metodo selettivo. Devono essere studiosi, eccellenti anche in calligrafia e canto. Quando si accorge di essere ormai un'autorità locale, fugge in territorio longobardo, verso il principato di Capua. Qui, per quindici anni, Nilo educa monaci di rito orientale, mantenendo amabili rapporti con i monaci benedettini di Montecassino. Trascorre dieci anni a Gaeta dove vede finire il primo millennio. E da qui parte, novantenne, per fondare l'abbazia di Grottaferrata vicino Roma. Si spegne nel vicino monastero greco di Sant'Agata. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Rossano, Grottaferrata

Martirologio Romano: Nella campagna tuscolana vicino a Roma, san Nilo il Giovane, abate, che, di origine greca, cercò una santa condotta di vita e, pervaso dal desiderio di penitenza, umiltà e peregrinazione, nonché insigne per spirito di profezia e sapienza di dottrina, fondò il celebre monastero di Grottaferrata secondo gli insegnamenti dei Padri orientali, dove nonagenario rese in chiesa lo spirito a Dio.

L’Italia meridionale conosce i monaci d’Oriente con la loro liturgia al tempo del dominio bizantino. Poi l’espansione araba (che si estende alla Sicilia) ve ne spinge altri: la Calabria, in particolare, si popola di comunità guidate dalla regola di san Basilio, che attirano anche discepoli del posto. Come appunto questo calabrese di Rossano, di nome Nicola. Si sa che era sposato e con una figlia; poi lo si ritrova monaco col nome di Nilo, e sul fatto gli storici non sono concordi. 

Nilo vive dapprima in comunità, poi si fa eremita per bisogno di solitudine, col consueto rigore nel cibo e nel riposo, con dedizione totale a preghiera e studio. Legge i Padri della Chiesa, compone inni, trascrive testi con grafia rapida ed elegante. Indossa magari per un anno intero lo stesso abito, riempiendosi di pulci. Ma è felice, è realizzato. 

Non cerca discepoli, ma questi arrivano, e addio solitudine. Diventa maestro di nuovi monaci presso Rossano, con un metodo duramente selettivo, perché non vuole gente qualunque. Devono essere maestri di ascesi, studiosi, eccellenti anche in calligrafia e canto. Quando però si accorge di essere ormai una sorta di autorità locale, e che si parla di lui come possibile vescovo, fugge in territorio longobardo, verso il principato di Capua. Qui, per quindici anni, Nilo educa monaci di rito orientale, mantenendo amabili rapporti con i monaci “latini”, i benedettini di Montecassino, che lo aiutano cordialmente. 

Trascorre altri dieci anni presso Gaeta, dove ha offerto ai suoi monaci una sede disagiata e sempre tanto lavoro. Qui vede finire il primo Millennio cristiano. E di qui parte, novantenne, per dare vita a un’altra fondazione: l’abbazia di Grottaferrata presso Roma, che sarà sempre viva e operosa alla fine del secondo Millennio, nella sua linea di preghiera e cultura, con la scuola di paleografia greca, la tipografia, la biblioteca; centro vivo di operosità ecumenica. Lui però fa solo in tempo a indicarne il luogo e a ottenere il terreno, presso la cappella detta Cryptoferrata. Poi si spegne nel vicino monastero greco di Sant’Agata. 

Il suo discepolo e biografo, Bartolomeo, narra che nel 998 Nilo corre a Roma per salvare il vescovo Giovanni Filagato, suo conterraneo, fatto antipapa dal nobile romano Crescenzio e suo complice nella rivolta contro il papa Gregorio V e l’imperatore Ottone III suo cugino. La rappresaglia di Ottone è degna della ferocia dei tempi (che hanno visto anche papi assassinati). Uccisi Crescenzio e i suoi, su Filagato si infierisce con atroci sevizie. "La biografia narra", scrive Gregorovius, "che ... le preghiere del santo non trovarono ascolto. Nilo lasciò Roma. Ma prima profetizzò all’imperatore e al papa che la maledizione del cielo prima o poi avrebbe colpito i loro cuori crudeli". Gregorio V muore dopo un anno, Ottone III dopo quattro, e ne ha ventitré.

Autore: Domenico Agasso