The 13th-century Basilica of Saint Benedict, built on the site of the birthplace of Saint Benedict and his twin Sister Saint Scholastica in Norcia Italy, has been destroyed in a powerful 6.6 magnitude earthquake, Sunday Oct. 30.
Only the monastery’s ornate facade remained still standing, according to a photo shared after the earthquake. The Monastery had been damaged on August 27th in a similar earthquake. The powerful quake was felt as far away as the Vatican.
In a release on their website, the community confirmed the destruction:
“Around 7:40 AM, a powerful earthquake struck close to Norcia. The monks are all safe, but our hearts go immediately to those affected, and the priests of the monastery are searching for any who may need the Last Rites.
The Basilica of St. Benedict, the historic church built atop the birthplace of St. Benedict, was flattened by this most recent quake. May this image serve to illustrate the power of this earthquake, and the urgency we monks feel to seek out those who need the Sacraments on this difficult day for Italy.”
The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 was the strongest to strike the country in nearly 36 years, hitting a mountainous region northeast of Rome where people were still unnerved after a pair of jolts last week and an August quake that killed nearly 300.
Closest to the epicenter was the ancient city of Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, the father of monasticism, and famed for its Benedictine monastery.
Witnesses said the 14th century St. Benedict Cathedral collapsed in the quake, with only the facade still standing.
Some 20 people suffered minor injuries. That there were no reports of fatalities was largely due to the fact that thousands had left their homes after the earlier temblors. Many locals, including the monks, were evacuated from the town after previous earthquakes in August and October.
As caretakers of the Basilica, the monks have already set up a fund to help with the reconstruction of the church, which can be found at:
The aftershocks of the earthquake were felt in the capital of Rome and as far north as Venice.
Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by the earthquake after his Angelus address Sunday morning, asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to watch over the victims.