Norcia

Life amid the rubble

Dear friends,

Last week, I took what would usually be a 90-minute drive to our monastery dentist. The drive took over 2 and a half hours because of detours due to road closures. On the way back I thought I would do something clever. I decided to take a shortcut along country roads. My plan backfired: a dam had collapsed following some of the aftershocks and completely flooded the valley that surrounded the road. My road was submerged in a lake. It took me 4 hours to get home.

All of Norcia is the same; it’s like a war zone. There are military and firefighter base camps scattered throughout the valley of Saint Scholastica. Postal services are being run out of temporary sheds and cars. The Italian State has given us a power generator for electricity. Aid workers have to come and fill it up every three days with diesel to keep the lights on.

I mention all of this to beg your pardon that you have not heard from us to acknowledge your gracious gifts. With the earthquake, we’ve prioritized building the immediate things we need to get through the coldest months of the year. Many friends across the world have sent words of appreciation and gratitude to Fr. Cassian following the news of his resignation and my appointment as prior. Your words have brought us great consolation and hope. We’ll try our best to catch up on responding to these e-mails over the next few weeks.

So many things have happened recently that we want to share with you, but because I must get back to the community I can only manage a quick summary. To start, we managed to rescue the harpsichord from the rubble. Though a few of its keys no longer work, we were able to have a small concert on the feast of St. Cecilia, with Br. Ignatius on the keyboard and Br. Justin on the classical guitar. It was an enjoyable evening of musical delights to nourish the soul.

For Thanksgiving, a local farmer butchered 4 of his own turkeys and brought them to us fresh. This was indeed a treat as we only eat meat on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Donations have been abundant in these days from parishes and individuals alike, some bringing their gifts in person to present them, like CitizenGo. Gifts in kind have also been a blessing. A new container chapel, kindly given by the Association Umanitaria Padana, arrived yesterday. Starting next Sunday, the chapel will make it possible for us to offer Mass on the monastery grounds (San Benedetto in Monte) for the few brave souls still remaining in Norcia, providing immediate benefits to locals and to allow us to start getting back, if only a little, to normal.

Ever thankful for your prayers and support,
Fr. Prior
Fr. Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.

Note: If you want to help the rebuilding process, you can give to the monks by clicking here.