Lord, have mercy! From Father Benedict, subprior of the Norcia monastery:

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.

Relying, as ever, on your prayers and support,
Fr. Benedict
Subprior

He sent a second missive just now. It reads:

After offering spiritual support to the people in town following this morning’s intense earthquake, the entire monastic community is together again at our mountain monastery which overlooks a now fractured Norcia. Messages are pouring in from all over the world, and we are grateful for your prayers for us and for the people affected.

Because we want to be present to the people of Norcia, and also due to the poor cellular and internet connectivity this emergency has created in the area, we will be difficult to reach by phone or e-mail for a while. We want to assure our friends and family that we are safe, and also that we are doing everything possible to help to our suffering neighbors. Please continue to pray Norcia.

More photos, these via Marco Sermarini:

Sunday morning view from the piazza, Norcia (Photo via Marco Sermarini)

Sunday morning view from the piazza, Norcia (Photo via Marco Sermarini)

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Friends, I have no words this morning, at least nothing to add to Fr. Benedict’s note. That basilica has withstood so many earthquakes over the centuries. But not this year’s. Please, please pray for the monks, for the people of Norcia, and for the people of Italy who are suffering so terribly. This latest quake was so strong that Marco and his family, in the coastal city of San Benedetto del Tronto, had to run out of their own house. Marco says all over his city today, priests said mass outside their churches.

View from the piazza this morning. The monk you see is Father Benedict Father Basil:

And:

This story from CBS Sunday Morning last year shows you what the world has lost this morning:

The monks of Norcia need us all now more than ever. Please pray, and please, please give generously to the rebuilding.

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