VIDEO Spectacular view of the Basilica of Monreale … by drone

After the dreck we have had to wade through lately, here is something of beauty.

Here is a voyage within the Basilica Santa Maria La Nuova di Monreale in Sicily, a magnificent 12th c. Normano-Byzantine edifice which must number among the most beautiful churches in the world.

COOL THING: The photography is done with a drone!  HERE Hit the toggle button on the lower right of the frame to see it larger.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. VexillaRegis says:

    Oh, for the wings of a dove! To Sicily I would rove!

  2. Sword40 says:

    Its beautiful. Too bad its set up OF. Can’t have everything, I guess.

  3. The Cobbler says:

    Which of the seven dwarves was this drone named after?

    I remember the Sound of Music days when shots flying over mountains or around castles involved helicopters. Which is funny, because I’m pretty sure I’m too young to remember those days. What’s up with that?

  4. Cordelio says:

    That’s awesome.

    I wish the drone could have recorded the pipe organ playing. It’s the only 6-manual pipe organ in Italy, and one of the largest ever built by Ruffatti.

  5. OrthodoxChick says:

    That was so cool!!!!

  6. Patrick-K says:

    Very nice (although a higher resolution would have been better). We’d do well to have more things like this out there on the interwebs for people to share.

  7. RJHighland says:

    I agree Sword40, what an incredibly beautiful Church except for the stupid little table. The good thing is it looks pretty easy to get rid of. Rebuild the altar rail and it’s back to its full glory. What an incredible experience it would be to be a priest and offer the Holy Sacrafice of the mass ad orientem at that high altar wow! Our ancestors built some incredible stuff. I think we should have a compare and contrast with say the Cathedrial in Las Angels the jewel of Card. Mahoney’s eye. The wording in the video would be in the venacular, music in the background could be “On Eagles Wings” or Cat Steven’s “The Morning has Broken.” It is incredible that two such divergent theologies and architectural styles reside under the same roof.

  8. mimiwnc says:

    I have a photo of the mosaic Christ Pantokrator as the wallpaper on my laptop. My grandchildren ask to see Jesus on the computer – they respond to the beauty. Fantastic video! Thank you so much, Father.

  9. Sandy says:

    Wow! Visual and auditory beauty combined! The music gave me goosebumps, and seeing that beauty takes my breath away. Ditto re the “table”.

  10. Iacobus M says:

    Truly magnificent – what a beautifully done video. One thing, however, keeps bugging me: why is the Latin all in the accusative case? Any idea, Fr. Z?

    James Milliken

    [Credo in unum Deum….]

  11. Joe in Canada says:

    As a priest I would be honored to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass on that “stupid little table” aka the Altar on which Christ is offered.
    I had the same question as Iacobus M. Is it from the Creed? but why in that order?

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Credo in Deum” includes the phrases “Patrem omnipotentem”, “Jesum Christum”, and “Spiritum Sanctum.” So I’m guessing they were thinking about the Creed.

  13. This is one of the most glorious churches in the world. (I admit that as a historian of the middle ages who did his secondary doctoral field in Byzantine history, I am biased.)

    But this was a bit of a disappointment. The images are those that might easily be found in any paper or web presentation of Monreale. Now if the drone had hovered before each of the wonderful mosaics in the nave and apse, well, that would have been spectacular. But no, just the general views of the nave and apse. All readily findable on google.

    Still lovely images.

  14. Iacobus M,

    I suppose the reason is that in the secularized state that is now Italy, the RAI cannot say “Laudamus” before those nouns in the accusative. But any serious Italian Catholic knows the omitted verb …

  15. John Fannon says:

    Iacobus M

    All seem to be taken from the Credo, which is full of accusatives

  16. Wiktor says:

    Chairs! Oh, how I dislike chairs in a church…

  17. frjim4321 says:



    I also find the notion of a 6-manual Ruffati quite stimulating. I certainly hope it is in good playing condition. I would assume that as a Ruffati the reeds would be staggeringly beautiful.

    Would I be correct in recalling that one of the largest Ruffati instruments in the US is the R.C. cathedral in Atlanta? I still get shivers when I think of that organ.

  18. Confitemini Domino says:

    This is so beautiful.
    I have always been tempted to try something like that with my own small drone (AR.drone 2.0 from Parrot), but I feared I might accidentally hit a putto or some other delicate work of art and destroy it. Plus I think I’d feel awkward because of the reverence I owe to this place…

  19. frjim4321 says:

    HI, Confitemini – – –

    To me it seemed like the vast majority of the footage was taken at ground level.

    With respect to the shots that may not have been, I wondered if perhaps the MUAV was tethered in order to restrain it from bumping into the priceless art within the building.


    – – – Jim Blue

  20. Dr. Edward Peters says:


    ps: I took all the accusatives as accusatives of exclamation.

  21. Confitemini Domino says:

    Hi Jim,
    maybe you are right. But I think tethering my drone would severely affect its flight behavior and result in erratic roll/pitch/yaw, not to speak of the tether getting tangled in the rotor blades…

    Anyway, no take-off without prior asking the Parish Priest… ;)

  22. frjim4321 says:

    Requesting clearance from Father Clarence.

  23. Confitemini Domino says:

    Hi Dr. Edward Peters,
    I am almost certain they just cited the Credo. While I was watching the video this seemed obvious to me.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    It’s a Goulding & Wood, installed in 1991.
    St. Philips, the Piskies, have a marvelous Aeolian Skinner, one of the last ones built. We go over there to record anything.
    Spivey Hall (on the campus of Clayton State College) has a Ruffati. It’s an excellent room for it too.
    North Avenue Pres has had one for years (since some time in the 70s, I believe. The church is connected with my high school.)
    We have a fairly miserable organ but are trying to get the wherewithal together for a Casavant.

  25. AnAmericanMother says:

    The AGO site informs me that Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta (a suburb of Atlanta) has the largest Ruffati around here. Have no idea what they do with that much horsepower.

  26. Cordelio says:

    Dear Father Jim,

    There is a big one in the Crystal Cathedral, which I’m pretty sure was recently acquired by the diocese in which it is located. I think that would make it the biggest Ruffatti in a Catholic Church in the U.S.

    There are also a few big ones in Florida, thanks in large part to Diane Bish, who helped design a 5-manual instrument in Fort Lauderdale.

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