In his Subiaco retreat, Gregory writes, Benedict became increasingly famous for his virtue, drawing many people to the service of God (Gregory the Great 1979, 148-50). Since then, the cave near Subiaco has been a place where people head on pilgrimage, in the hope of experiencing the same encounter with God that Saint Benedict had experienced on that very spot. The fi rst pilgrims to seek out Benedict’s cave were the shepherds of the valley. Gregory the Great relates that when they discovered the hermit hidden in the cave, covered in animal skins, the shepherds thought that it was a wild beast. Soon, however, they recognised Benedict as the humble servant of God, and, as Gregory put it, turned their own beastly existence to a holy way of life (Gregory the Great 1979, 136). According to tradition, Benedict preached to them and to the inhabitants of the neighbouring regions in the cave called ‘Grotto of the Shepherds’ (Figure 5.4), just below his own cave, the Sacro Speco (see Figure 5.2). Fragments of a large fresco with the Enthroned Madonna and Child with Saints, a majestic effi gy drawn from a Byzantine model and a statement of faith possibly dating back to the ninth century mark the rocks of the grotto where Benedict shared his experience of God with the visitors from the valley (see Figure 5.4; Cristiani Testi 1982, 109-10; Treffers 1998, 15).