The Basilica and Cathedral are completely destroyed.
Fr. Z posted an email from the monks - they are all fine. The priests of the community are out ministering the sacraments to those in need.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed for victims of an earthquake that struck Italy near the town of Norcia on Sunday. The powerful temblor was felt as far away as Rome and Venice.
“I express my closeness to the people of central Italy,” the Pope said. “I pray for the wounded and the families that have suffered major damage; as well as for the personnel” involved in rescue efforts and in aiding the victims.
The Holy Father concluded his remarks with the prayer “May the Risen Lord give them strength, and the Madonna watch over them.” - finish reading here.
For those who see signs and portents in natural disasters, I wonder what they think of this? It is the the third major earthquake and the Basilica collapsed completely. For some, Norcia has been a symbol of the liturgical reform and return to the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, as well as Benedictine monastic reform... or as some would have it, 'Norcia had become a center of revival for authentic Benedictine spirituality.'
If it had been another more progressive monastic church which collapsed, such as Enzo Bianchi's, Monastero di Bose, I would suspect many traditionalists might believe it was God's judgement on the liberal, ecumenical monastic community. Maybe not.
I mention that because my first reaction was, 'what if this event was a sign that the Ordinary Form of Mass is still the Mass of all ages?' Or something like that. Just saying. That's just dumb, however. Although I did come across comments wondering; "if this geological earthquake isn’t related to the spiritual earthquake announced last week (replacement of the entire CDW). Perhaps even, the geological one is a manifestation of the spiritual one. The earth itself groans…" So you see, I'm not the only one who wonders about signs. We are all so accustomed to do that.
In the meantime, prayers for all of those who have lost so much; homes, livelihoods, and even their lives in these earthquakes. I have no intention of making light of these disasters. Perhaps the sign in these disasters is a call to repentance of sin and division - 'unless you repent, you will all come to the same end.'
I am reminded of the Assisi quake which destroyed a portion of the Sacro Convento Basilica. Assisi recovered, but in the case of Norcia, with the basilica completely destroyed, recovery and rebuilding will be very difficult. Art and architectural treasures are lost.
It is a sobering reality, as well as a useful meditation on the 'last things'. I'm reminded of Teresa of Avila, who looked to the example of Clare of Assisi when 'reforming' Carmel - she so desired poverty and humble monasteries, which wouldn't make a big noise when they collapsed at the end of the world. In the end, all will collapse. Events such as these remind us of that.
That said, I'm praying with the Holy Father for the victims, the injured, the survivors, the rescue personnel, the religious and those priests ministering to those affected and involved in the rescue.
O Maternal Refuge, Queen of the universe,
Mediatrix of men to God,
Refuge of all our hopes,
have mercy on us. - Prayer of Bl. Elena Aiello