Since moving to Norcia from Rome in the year 2000, the traditional community of Benedictines in the birthplace of St. Benedict had been living in the middle of the town in the old diocesan chancellory, and praying the office in the basilica built over the house of SS. Benedict and Scholastica. Since the destruction of the basilica by the recent Umbrian earthquakes, however, they have been living at an old monastic grange on a hill above the city. Now they have announced on their website that the move is to be permanent:
For 16 years, the monks acted as guardians over the historic birth home of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica. The monks are grateful to the many who helped them restore the basilica to great beauty over the course of those blessed years. Now, the European Union and the Italian state have pledged to restore the basilica and monastery. The Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, which owns the buildings, has decided that the spaces will have to be used by the diocese since all the other churches in town were also destroyed. Throughout the many years needed for the massive work of reconstruction, while the monks work to build the new monastery in Monte, their hearts will remain there in the ancient crypt of the basilica, the birth home to their great founder and father, St. Benedict.Unfortunately it seems that the Bishop of Spoleto wants to restore the basilica in a modern style. The monks, however, see in this new development the hand of Divine Providence. In his Easter Message, the prior, Fr. Benedict, writes as follows:
For the monks it is a time to focus on new building projects at our home in the Norcia mountains, following the request from the archdiocese asking us to free up space in our buildings in town (which belong to the diocese) for their own needs. The archdiocese has hundreds of damaged properties and the buildings in town were among the least damaged. We see their request as a sign of God’s will as we too can begin a new chapter of our community’s life on the mountainside.The monks will need support in order to build a new Abbey on the site of the old grange.