This year’s beautiful feasts of Christmas and Epiphany brought more snow than we have had in many years in Norcia. Despite the weather, construction of the new monastery is still on course. Cement trucks and bulldozers arrive daily, adding a new variety of sounds to this mountaintop usually known for its bells and Gregorian Chant.
The ongoing reconstruction brought hope to all the monks who worked hard to make Christ’s arrival in the manger in Norcia warmly felt. We like to think we are rebuilding the “inn” so that He can have a room here!
Meanwhile, our temporary wooden chapel has been enhanced by sounds of another sort: the blessing and inauguration of our first real pipe organ on December 26.
Built from scratch by Claudio Pinchi Organs (http://www.pinchi.com/) of Trevi in Umbria, the new organ, with a gentle gothic exterior, houses a muscular set of 567 pipes, 11 ranks, 2 manuals of 54 keys, a pedalboard of 27 keys and is cased in local chestnut. Claudio Pinchi exceeded all our expectations and we warmly recommend him to any church or monastery building an organ.
The new organ will eventually be moved to the church when construction is finished, making this instrument a permanent feature of our home. We are immensely grateful to Andy Mozisek of Dallas, Texas for his donation, which will enhance the ancient liturgy for generations to come.
The Christmas feasts brought many moments of joy. While most of those took place in the chapel, one took place outside: the monks scaled a snow-covered mountain trail for exercise and to appreciate God’s creation. We are blessed that Norcia is situated in Italy’s largest national park. All around us, the beauty of nature parallels the beauty of the liturgy that occurs inside our wooden walls.
This note cannot be sent without a word of thanks to all of you for your support this Christmas. For the first time in the history of our Birra Nursia (http://birranursia.com) venture in the United States, our beer sold out of our California warehouse. This meant that some of you who would have liked to celebrate the holidays with it were unable to do so. We are extremely grateful for your understanding, but most of all for the support you give us by buying our beer. By the end of the week a new container will have arrived allowing old orders to be fulfilled and new ones to be made.
Many of you sent in Christmas donations, greeting cards and assured us of your prayers. We can repay you only by promising you our prayers. As we continue to celebrate Christmas until February 2, be assured we will remember you all at the Holy Crib for the kindness and generosity you show to our monastic community.
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.