The ruins of Norcia

The far-reaching light of St. Benedict

 

 

Dear Friends,

Since my last update, there is much to report.

First, in preparation for the Feast of St. Benedict, the annual lighting of the Benedictine Torch took place. For those who don’t know, the torch has been lit in Norcia for the last 50 years as a symbol of the great missionary monks of history whose efforts helped bring Christianity to the pagan areas of Europe. With the stark message of the Cross of Christ, the monks also brought the knowledge of ancient culture, the love of learning and the belief that only with God’s help could man bring beauty out of the chaos of the fallen Roman world.

 

 

The community with Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.
 

This year the lighting of the torch was all the more poignant. Firefighters built a wooden staircase and platform on top of the ruins of the Basilica so that the torch delegation could get as close as possible to the place of St. Benedict’s birth. To commemorate St. Benedict’s role as Patron of Europe, the torch will be brought to Brussels and presented to the European parliament as a reminder that it was his Rule that ultimately brought order and unity to the continent.

 

 

 

At the end of February I was able to fulfill a long-held hope of our community: to visit Asia. The first stop was Indonesia where I met one of our monk’s families. During his 11 years in Norcia, Br. Ignatius has often told us of his people’s warm hospitality. Locals in Yogyakarta and Jakarta confirmed his reports. Their appreciation for monastic life and desire to make us feel at home were palpable. The Apostolic Nuncio in Indonesia, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, shared his home with us for breakfast and assured us of his prayers for our work of rebuilding.

 

 

 

LEFT: Br. Ignatius with Prior Benedict. RIGHT: Visiting Br. Ignatius’ family.

 

 

 

After Indonesia, Br. Ignatius and I moved northwards to Taiwan for what proved to be an inspirational weekend filled with encouragement from the people on that beautiful island.

Faithful readers of these updates will recall that one of the first dignitaries to show his public support for the monastery after the earthquake was Ambassador Matthew Lee who visited Norcia to present a gift on behalf of his people for our reconstruction efforts. This was providential, since only months before, with the help of Chalice, a company in Taiwan, our beloved Birra Nursia had reached its shores and received excellent reviews. Our visit to Taiwan offered the chance to thank the civil authorities for their gift, to meet the restaurant owners who have fallen in love with our beer and to share our needs with the country.

 

 

Prior Benedict and Br. Ignatius meet with Anna A. Kao, Director General of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Europe department, Aaron Turner, CEO of Chalice, and Monsignor Slađan Ćosić, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Taiwan.
 

TV cameras greeted us at the airport on arrival and news of our presence on the island quickly spread. Men and women travelled for hours by car to greet us and to present personal gifts. It was a reception we certainly didn’t expect but which inspired us to continue our work and to strengthen our ties with Taiwan and other parts of Asia as they too see St. Benedict’s birthplace as a light of hope for our times.

Amid these exciting moments, monastic life continues on its regular course, filled now with prayers, chants and readings which all call us to vigilance during this time of Lent. We join our sacrifices to yours so that we might together arrive at Easter with purified hearts and souls, filled with the joy of Christ.

 

 

 

Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.
Prior

 

 

 

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