A monastery has always been connected with the church, but here, as in many of the fairest paradises of the tropics, miasma lurks with its deadly poison and, on this account, but few monks are attached to the place.
These beautiful twisted columns were not made by machinery and turned out at so much a dozen ; they are the finest work of the most talented sculptors of the twelfth century, when men worked for the sake of doing their very best and put life and strength and love into what they wrought. Almost every known variety of column, or combination of varieties, is found here. Notice that the cloister extends around the garden ; thus you gain an idea of the number of these columns. It is not chance or accident that causes these monks to come here to study ; they are drawn here irresistibly by the charm and beauty of these columns and arches, as though they were under the influence of the fabled magnet of the fairy tales. And I vouch for it, that their minds are never so intently absorbed with the prayer-book, but that, occasionally, albeit unconsciously, they rest their hands with fond admiration upon those spiral gems while musing on the whole vision of loveliness.
Before we go farther from Rome, there is one more Gate we should see, the Gate of S. Sebastian, through which the Appian Way pierced the Wall of Aurelian. It is found on the map near the lower margin to the east of the St. Paul Gate. The red. lines with the number 43 attached show that we are to stand south of the wall and look at the fine old Roman gateway from the outside.