By Christopher Wells
Since the devastating earthquake of October 30, 2016, the Benedictine sisters have been living in the nearby town of Trevi, the guests of the Sisters of Santa Lucia.
On Sunday, the feast of St Scholastica, the Benedictine Sisters of Saint Anthony returned to Norcia after more than two years. The community will be living in a temporary housing model located in the garden of Santa Pace. The structure has been adapted as a monastery, with double rooms for living quarters, a space for community meetings, an office, kitchen, dining room, and room to accommodate guests. At the heart of the community is the Chapel, where the monastery’s ancient tabernacle has been placed. Over the door of the new edifice, a sign reads: “Pax. Benedictine Community of St Anthony. Welcome.”
"We must begin again with vigor"
The return of the Sisters to the birthplace of St Benedict and St Scholastica was celebrated with a solemn Mass offered by the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Renato Boccardo, in the community centre of Madonna della Grazie. All of the churches in Norcia were destroyed in the 2016 earthquake, and as yet none have been rebuilt. The Mass was attended by many of the lay faithful, as well as local clergy, civil leaders including Norcia’s mayor, and Benedictine sisters from the surrounding communities, including Trevi, Castel Ritaldi, Fabriano, Pontasserchio and Viboldone.
In his homily, Archbishop Boccardo emphasized that everyone has a call, a vocation. In Norcia, he said, “We must always begin again with vigor.” Despite the difficulties of rebuilding, and the temptation to start over elsewhere, he said, “it is necessary to cast our nets in Norcia and begin again from here. And the Benedictine nuns tell us this is possible.” Their return, the Archbishop said, “is a beautiful sign that makes us look ahead with confidence.”
"We have returned for you"
Following the Mass, the Archbishop led a procession to the temporary monastery, which he blessed. The head of the Benedictine Community, the abbess, Mother Caterina Corona carried in her hands a relic of St Scholastica, brought by the Benedictine monks of Norcia.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Mother Caterina thanked “the nuns of Trevi, who welcomed us with so much love; the Archbishop, for his constant closeness; and the municipal authorities for allowing the construction of the housing module.” But she said, “We have returned mainly for you, dear fellow citizens of Norcia, to pray for you, and to share with you this moment of insecurity.”