Giulio Ghirardi gets a rare look and feel of life inside a monastery in his latest photographic series, A Different Life. Ghirardi went inside the buildings of the Monastery of San Giovanni, located in Parma, Italy. San Giovanni Evangelista is a church located in Parma, northern Italy.
The monastery portion is comprised of three cloisters. The first is distinguished by its Ionic columns, the second is adorned by works of Correggio and the third, referred to as Cloister of St. Benedict, boasts of beautiful 16th-century frescoes. It also has an associated library that is the repository of manuscripts and codexes testifying the amanuensis activity of the local monks. An ancient grocery is also present in the monastery with records that date it to 1201.
Monasteries typically means the building, or cluster of buildings that function as the domestic quarters as well as workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in communities or in solitary conditions like hermits.
The monastery usually includes a place exclusively for prayer which may be a church, chapel or temple. A sense of incredible peace, quiet and tranquility pervades from each image, as can be seen in the collection by Ghirardi. Whether it’s an empty corridor, a monk strolling by himself or an image of the Virgin Mary amongst some greenery in the open air, the images all have a stillness that can only come from a place that is absorbed in holiness.
Monasteries may differ very much in size, ranging from a small dwelling meant only for a hermit, or could be communities with a single building housing only one elder and two or three junior nuns or monks, to huge complexes and estates housing dozens, even hundreds.
For anyone who has always wondered what it is like behind the mysterious and cloistered walls of a monastery, Ghirardi’s collection offers a rare glimpse of what lies inside. Take your own virtual tour inside the Monastery of San Giovanni here.