FAITH IS TRUSTING IN JESUS’ MERCY AND SAVING POWER – PAPAL MOTU PROPRIO FOR NEW DICASTERY ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT – BENEDICTINE MONKS WRITE OF VISITORS AND HOMECOMINGS

FAITH IS TRUSTING IN JESUS’ MERCY AND SAVING POWER

Wednesday, at the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis focussed on St Matthew’s Gospel account of the cure of a woman suffering from hemorrhages. The audience was held under overast skies and, about an hour after it ended, the heavens opened and a torrential rain fell, accompanied, by extraordinarily loud cracks of thunder and lightning

“In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy,” began the Holy Father. “we now consider Jesus’ cure of the woman suffering from hemorrhages (Mt 9:20-22). This unnamed woman, considered impure according to the Law, trusted in Jesus’ mercy and saving power to free her from her illness and isolation.”

Francis explained that, “Filled with deep faith, she reached out and touched his garment.  In Hebrew religious tradition, wearing such a garment was a symbol of being clothed with the divine Law, the source of blessing.  The woman’s gesture of touching his garment is thus a form of quiet prayer and a sign of hope.”

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The Pope went on to say that, “Jesus responds by looking upon her with tenderness and acknowledges her dignity.  He treats her with love and heals her of her affliction.  Faith in Christ brings salvation; it offers healing, restores right relationships between people and affirms our inviolable dignity.  Jesus asks all of us to trust in his word and, having experienced his mercy, to be a leaven of that mercy in our world.”

After the main catechesis in Italian and summaries in six other languages, the Pope had greetings for the visitors present, expressed in the different languages by monsignori of the Secretariat of State. In English he said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, particularly those from Ireland, Malta, the Philippines, Vietnam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the United States of America.  May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord, and may he make you his missionaries of mercy, especially for all those who feel distant from God.  May God bless you all!”

PAPAL MOTU PROPRIO FOR NEW DICASTERY ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new Dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve.

The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano.

It will come into effect on January 1, 2017 and will be have jurisdiction especially “in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.”

On that same date, four Pontifical Councils dedicated to charity and to the promotion of human development will cease to exist and effectively be encompassed in the new institution.

The Pope has appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson as Prefect of the new dicastery. Turkson is the current President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace – one of those destined to be suppressed.

As Pope Francis highlights in the Motu Proprio: ‘the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel’, thus the Successor of Peter must ‘continuously adapt the institutions which collaborate with him.’

One of the sections of the new dicastery is an expression of the Pope’s particular concern for refugees and migrants and of his deep belief that in today’s world integral human development cannot be promoted without special attention for the phenomenon of migration. For this reason, this particular section is placed ad tempus beneath the direct jurisdiction of the Pope.

Click here for full text of motu proprio: http://www.news.va/en/news/migrants-and-refugees-at-the-heart-of-popes-new-mo

BENEDICTINE MONKS WRITE OF VISITORS AND HOMECOMINGS

From Fr. Benedict, subprior:

Yesterday was a day of visitors and homecomings. What no doubt garnered the most attention from the press was the visit of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who came in by helicopter to Norcia to see the damage. Accompanied by the mayor, the archbishop and the president of Umbria, Renzi was able to see first hand the damages done to the basilica and to assure us and all those in Norcia of his support. Fr. Cassian and I were able to greet him personally.

RENZI - MONKS

Much closer to our hearts, though, was the return of our dear brothers from Rome who arrived at the same time the prime minister did. They were less noticed but much needed. Their presence in Norcia had not been possible up until yesterday as the cells and other parts of the building had been declared unsafe by the fire marshals and they were required to evacuate. But we have found a few rooms that are usable for 4 brothers, and 3 brothers are sleeping in what were once our small guest quarters, which was not damaged since our neighbors who own it had it rebuilt after the last earthquake from the ground up.

With the community now all safely back in Norcia the monks were able to pray vespers together at Fuori Le Mura and Br. Michael posted his first recording since the quake. Afterwards we had a warm celebration together with a little Birra Nursia and a large Minestrone soup prepared by a friend of the monastery. All of us thanked God that in spite of the damage we are all safe and alive and we renewed our intention to be present to the people of Norcia through our prayer and support, now needed more than ever.

One more visitor is pictured below. The first snake we’ve encountered was thankfully already dead, which the brothers took to be a propitious sign: the reclaiming of our property from the beasts! Other visitors have been hedgehogs, wild boar, and a neighbor’s cow that feeds near our stone wall.

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POPE AWAKENED BY EARTHQUAKE LAST WEEK, SAID MASS AT 4 AM – INTERVIEW WITH MOTHER SUPERIOR OF MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY

POPE AWAKENED BY EARTHQUAKE LAST WEEK, SAID MASS AT 4 AM

VATICAN CITY (Josephine McKenna – Religious News Service) — While Pope Francis has expressed his sympathy for the victims of Italy’s devastating earthquake, few may have realized the pontiff himself was shaken by the 6.2 magnitude temblor as he slept at his residence inside the walls of the Vatican.

Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, which is close to the medieval towns most affected by the quake, said the pope had telephoned him three times since Wednesday (Aug. 24) to ask about the victims and their families.

More than 290 people were killed when houses and buildings collapsed in the towns north of Rome.

During one of the calls Francis disclosed that the shock waves woke him 100 miles away.

“He told me he had felt the earthquake,” Pompili told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “He had woken up, was informed and celebrated Mass for us at 4 a.m.”

Francis led prayers for the quake victims at the Vatican on Sunday (Aug. 28) and announced plans to visit survivors in the affected area soon.

“He feels very upset,” Pompili said. “He came to this area a couple of times, almost anonymously, in January and July. He loves us.”

Pompili, who was appointed by Francis in 2015, said the pope had also called him during the rescue operations to find out how many children were trapped and how many had been saved.

Italian media reports said the pope did not want to interfere with the emergency operations led by the civil protection department and was expected to visit the area before the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended on November 20.

“I hope to come to see you as soon as possible, to bring you in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope,” the pope said in remarks at the noontime Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Sunday.

In a related development, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with Francis at the Vatican on Monday and afterward announced that Facebook will give 500,000 euros, or about $560,000, to the Italian Red Cross to help relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken region north of Rome.

He said the money would be in the form of advertising credits that can be used on the Facebook platform to promote fundraising, organize volunteers, solicit blood donations, and to help people who need accommodations.

Italy held a day of national mourning for the quake victims Saturday.

The president, Sergio Mattarella, and the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, joined hundreds at a state funeral in Ascoli Piceno to mourn 35 of the victims, including an 18-month-old baby, while flags flew at half-staff across the country.

More funerals were due to be held in the devastated town of Amatrice on Tuesday evening.

INTERVIEW WITH MOTHER SUPERIOR OF MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY

(Vatican Radio) – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is set to be canonized on Sunday, September 4th.

Mother Teresa founded the religious order Missionaries of Charity, which is based in Calcutta, India. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor.

She was beatified by John Paul II in 2003, just 6 years after her death at the age of 87.

The current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity is Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who first met Mother Teresa in 1980.

SR PREMA

Listen to part 1 of the interview with Sister Prema: 

She told Vatican Radio Mother Teresa’s holiness was so present in her life, the members of the congregation took it for granted.

“We lived with Mother and we took it for granted that she is available and that she is always attentive to us,” she said.

Listen to Part 2 of the interview with Sister Prema:

“We enjoyed her presence and we wanted to know from her how she lived the day, and how she went about the work she was doing,” Sister Prema continued.

“But deeply, I did not know how she was united with Jesus, and how deeply she lived the Gospel message of Jesus,” – Sister Prema said – “I can see that the works of mercy had become like a second nature to Mother, but that was Mother, and we took it for granted.”

(http://www.news.va/en/news/sister-prema-mercy-second-nature-to-mother-teresa)

POPE FRANCIS GREETS FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG – HOLY FATHER REMEMBERS QUAKE VICTIMS AT ANGELUS – SEPTEMBER 1, WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CARE OF CREATION – QUAKE UPDATE FROM BENEDICTINES OF NORCIA

POPE FRANCIS GREETS FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG

A Holy See Press Office statement from director Greg Burke announced that Pope Francis met this morning with Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook and his wife, Priscilla Chan, in a private audience. The statement only noted that, “They spoke about how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and help deliver a message of hope, especially to those people who are most disadvantaged.”

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More information was available – guess where!? – Zuckerberg’s FB page:

Priscilla and I had the honor of meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he’s found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world.

We also discussed the importance of connecting people, especially in parts of the world without internet access. We gave him a model of Aquila, our solar-powered aircraft that will beam internet connectivity to places that don’t have it. And we shared our work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help people around the world.

It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.

HOLY FATHER REMEMBERS QUAKE VICTIMS AT ANGELUS

The August 24 earthquake that rocked central Italy, killing nearly 300, was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks Sunday after praying the noon Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. He offered words of encouragement to the people of the quake-damaged area, renewed his appeal for prayerful and concrete solidarity, and expressed the desire to visit the stricken places as soon as possible.

He specifically named the towns with the highest loss of life and the most extensive damage – Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Norcia.

Francis said, “the Church shares your suffering and your worries,…and prays for the dead and for the survivors.” He noted that “the work of the volunteers, police, and civil protection shows how important solidarity is in order to overcome such painful trials.”

“I hope to come to see you as soon as possible,” said the Holy Father, “to bring you in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope.” He then led the faithful in the square in praying a Hail Mary for the victims, their families, and for everyone affected by the deadly quake.

Saturday was a national day of mourning in Italy, and a mass funeral took place at a sports hall in the regional capital, Ascoli Piceno, for 35 of the people killed in the powerful earthquake. The coffins were laid out in rows on the floor, and included two small white one for children. The death toll from the quake is approaching 300

Museums across Italy donated proceeds from their ticket sales on Sunday to help the rebuilding effort, while soccer teams held a minute’s silence before their weekend matches out of respect for the victims.

SEPTEMBER 1, WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CARE OF CREATION

Speaking to the faithful following the traditional Angelus prayer Sunday Pope Francis called attention to the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated Thursday, September 1. A major global ecumenical stewardship initiative, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation began in 1989 under the leadership of the Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis established the Day for the Catholic Church by a letter dated August 6, 2015 and addressed to both Cardinals Peter Turkson and Kurt Koch, respectively the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the letter, Pope Francis says, “The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” (source Vatican Radio)

QUAKE UPDATE FROM BENEDICTINES OF NORCIA

SATURDAY

Dear Friends, This will be a shorter update since we’ve been very busy today responding to journalists and townspeople, politicians and bishops, all wanting to help us in their own way, and we are grateful to all of them. Inspectors finally came and as expected declared the church and most of the monastery unusable. Only the brewery a few rooms, and our gift shop will be allowed to be used as they are nearest to the ground and suffered the least damage. As a result, we’ll be setting up a new base camp at our monastery outside the walls, the restoration of which has not yet been completed, but which offers us various fields for tents and temporary buildings and a local farm house where we can take our meals. Alas the Basilica will remain closed for some months, but over the next weeks we hope to be able to gain access to the crypt or an adjacent room for daily celebration of Mass.

Today we were also able to stop in and see a few families and businesses and assure them of our prayers. The Archbishop of Spoleto Norcia made an official visit with the inspectors of all the churches in Norcia (all will remain closed) and made arrangements with the Pastor of the town for Mass to be offered outside in a field this Sunday as aftershocks continue to make all the already damaged churches dangerous.

The monks in Rome also continue to care for the people of Norcia through their particular monastic role of intercessory prayer on behalf of and for the people. The monks’ primary role in the life of the Church is one of praying quietly and silently, often unnoticed and even forgotten. Thus, we continue to strive to support the local parish clergy, who are charged with the particular sacramental needs of the townspeople, with our spiritual intercession, and collaborate with them when they request need. We know by faith our prayers help sustain their work and all those suffering and assist in healing the sufferings of many all over our region in these difficult times. Your continued support has inspired us in our prayer and mission.

Pax, Fr. Benedict, Subprior

SUNDAY

Dear Friends,

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Buona Domenica, as the Italians say to wish one another a happy Sunday. For us, it was indeed a blessed one, as for the first time since the earthquake, we have a safe and worthy little chapel to offer the Holy Mass in private (the St. Bartholomew Chapel, named after the saint on whose feast the earthquake occurred).

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More than that, the good people at Agriturismo il Casale degli Amici have dedicated a space for us to offer Mass in public, and, as you can see from the photograph, the Nursini turned up in good number, trekking up the hill a good 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the city center.

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The Tipiloschi family, who we mentioned in our last update, have finished the makeshift tent that is perched across the elevated garden area of our property Fuori Le Mura (Outside the Walls), and our beds and cupboards have been moved in. It’s already feeling like home.

A few monks are still in Rome, waiting for us to finish preparations to make enough livable space to accommodate them. We’ll have everyone back by the end of the month, and for that, and God’s goodness in providing for us so quickly, deeply grateful.

To all of the Nursini, the people of the region, our friends and family abroad, we wish you a blessed Sunday. Please keep us in your prayers.

Pax, Fr, Benedict, Subprior

“SLOW FOOD” MOVEMENT LAUNCHES AMATRICIANA RELIEF FUND – PASTA ALL’AMATRICIANA – RECIPE FOR 4 PEOPLE

What a terrific idea from Slow Food!! I am going to make and/or eat more spaghetti all’amatriciana whenever possible and see to it that all the restaurants I know also know of this campaign.

To increase your enjoyment, I offer a recipe and some mouth-watering photos!

 “SLOW FOOD” MOVEMENT LAUNCHES AMATRICIANA RELIEF FUND

(ANSA) – Turin, August 25 – The founder of the Slow Food movement on Thursday launched an earthquake relief campaign for the mountain village of Amatrice, which was flattened by an earthquake yesterday. The village in the Apennine mountains in the Lazio region in central Italy is also the birthplace of the world-famous “amatriciana” pasta sauce based on cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese, and tomato.

AMATRICIANA

The “A Future for Amatrice” campaign – launched by Slow Food in agreement with Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi – calls on restaurants around the world to put pasta all’amatriciana on their menu for a year, with two euros from every dish served to go to the quake relief fund.

AMATRICE SIGN 2

“We want to contribute and to avoid the risk of the initial generous impetus and attention wearing off after a couple of weeks,” said Slow Food founder and chief, Claudio Petrini. “Amatriciana pasta is a humble dish, symbolic of a farming culture that is based on solidarity.” Fund-raising for Amatrice must be “lasting and constant,” Petrini added.

The donations – with one euro coming from the restaurateur and one euro from the client for every amatriciana dish served – will go directly to the City of Amatrice, whose International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is IT 28 M 08327 73470 000000006000. Petrini will present the campaign in Copenhagen at a symposium with over 400 chefs from around the world.

PASTA ALL’AMATRICIANA – RECIPE FOR 4 PEOPLE

  • 400 grams (1 lb) of spaghetti or bucatini (a hollow pasta like a straw – I find it often unwinds on my fork after I’ve done a terrific job of winding the pasta and I find I am wearing the tomato sauce. By the way, amatriciana without the tomatoes is called gricia or white amatriciana. Word of warning: Please folks, NEVER cut the pasta with a knife and never, ever in Italy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 5 nice ripe tomatoes that you have blanched in boiling water.
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin Italian olive oil
  • 4 oz of guanciale (aka pork cheek )(or pancetta), cut into small strips
  • ½ glass of dry white wine
  • 3 oz of grated aged pecorino cheese
  • half cup water
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
  • small onion, chopped into small pieces ( optional )
  • salt – black pepper

Instructions:

In a large heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion (if you wish) and the guanciale (pancetta) and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Stir in pepper flakes and cook 10 seconds. Add tomatoes and water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until sauce is thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and, when sauce is almost done, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, 8 to 10 minutes or the time that is suggested on the package for the type of pasta you use. (do NOT use table salt when making pasta – use the large marine or sea salt). Drain the pasta. Pour pasta and sauce into a lightly heated fry pan, toss for a minute and serve in individual dishes. Offer a bowl of grated Parmesan (or pecorino) cheese on the side.

AMATRICIANA BIANCA

AMATRICNA Getty images

THE EARTHQUAKE IN FACTS AND FIGURES – POPE FRANCIS OFFERS PRAYERS, CONCRETE SIGNS OF SOLIDARITY – WORLD TRADE CENTER HONORING QUAKE VICTIMS

Just a quick note today about my guest on my weekend radio program, “Vatican Insider.” Join me for Part II of my conversation with Fr. Bill Petrie, pastor of St. Damien parish on the Hawaiian island of Molokai’i. We recently met in Honolulu to talk about his 25 years of work with Mother Teresa! 25 years! As you heard last week and will again this weekend, Fr. Bill has tons of insight and remarkable stories about this holy woman who will be declared a saint next weekend!!

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THE EARTHQUAKE IN FACTS AND FIGURES

Some statistics about the central Italy August 24 earthquake from various Italian news sources:

  • –         5400 aid workers/volunteers/rescuers in place
  • –         267: death toll as of this morning (Aug. 26)
  • –         387 wounded being treated in hospitals in Lazio, Umbria and Marche regions
  • –         238 people have been pulled alive from the rubble, of whom 215 by firemen and 23 by Italy’s Alpine Rescue
  • –         293 monuments comprising Italy’s cultural heritage have been destroyed

ANSA: Displaced survivors of the August 24 earthquake have occupied 2,100 of the 3,500 beds made available by the Civil Protection Department, officials said Friday. However that number is on the rise because area residents are still fleeing their homes as tremors continue in the area, Civil Protection Emergency chief Titti Postiglione told a press conference.

Sergio Pirozzi, Amatrice’s mayor, told ANSA that “Amatrice must be completely razed to the ground,” adding that there is not a single structure in the historic center than can be saved or restored. He said, “apart from the Roman church of St. Francis, all the rest is gone,” and repeated what he said Thursday: “We want to rebuild on the same spot, hopefully perhaps even with the same shape and aesthetics.”

Il palazzetto dello sport adibito a centro di accoglienza per i terremotati e di immagazzinamento viveri di prima necessità, 25 Agosto 2016. ANSA/FLAVIO LO SCALZO

25 Agosto 2016. ANSA/FLAVIO LO SCALZO

(AP): Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has authorized a preliminary 50 million euros ($56.5 million) in emergency funding and ordered the cancellation of taxes for residents of quake-hit central Italy.

(ANSA): A religious service for those who died in the quake in Amatrice will be brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday to enable Italian Premier Matteo Renzi to attend, Rieti Bishop Domenico Pompili said Friday. He said the service would be without coffins because it is not possible “to say when we will have all the bodies at our disposal since some have already been taken away by their families.” The Lazio town of Amatrice was the worst hit by Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed at least 267 people, 207 of them in Amatrice.

(ANSA): London – Three British nationals and a Canadian reportedly died in the August 24 earthquake in central Italy. Sky News cited an official from the mountain village of Amatrice, which was flattened by the 6.2-magnitude quake that struck before dawn last Wednesday, as saying two adults and a teenage boy perished in the nearby hamlet of Sommati. The Daily Telegraph newspaper named the victims as 14-year-old Marcos Burnett, and Maria and William Henniker-Gotley, aged 51 and 55, family friends of the teenager’s parents. The Telegraph reported the UK Foreign Office confirmed the deaths and said in a statement: “(The victims’) families have paid tribute to the tireless work of the Italian rescue workers and hospital staff and expressed their gratitude for the love and support they have received from the Italian people”. Also on Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion said one Canadian citizen perished in the quake. The identity of the person was released.

Domenica Primerano, president of the Italian Association of Ecclesiastical Museums (AMEI), has welcomed an invitation from Dario Franceschini, minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, to donate the revenue from museum entrance fees on Sunday, August 28 to the victims of the earthquake, or to chose another day if the museums is closed on Sundays. She also asked museums that were not members of AMEI to consider doing the same.

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Pharmacists who are members of SIFO – the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacists – are helping the areas affected by the August 24 quake by offering all medicines and medical devices that are needed to help the large number of survivors currently undergoing medical care in area hospitals. These pharmacists work in the hospitals of those regions affected by the quake. SIFO president Marcello Pani said, “Our colleagues are working to guarantee extra pharmaceutical assistance and to give all the support necessary for the rescue operations.”

POPE FRANCIS OFFERS PRAYERS, CONCRETE SIGNS OF SOLIDARITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is accompanying the victims of Wednesday’s devastating earthquake with both prayer and concrete signs of solidarity.

Having already sent Vatican firefighters to the area, Pope Francis on Thursday sent a group of Vatican gendarmes to assist in rescue and relief operations, in coordination with Italy’s Civilian Protection agency.

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Also on Thursday, the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass at the Casa Santa Marta for all those who are suffering on account of the earthquake. The Pope was joined at the Sacred Liturgy by a group of Poor Clares from the monastery of Santa Maria di Vallegloria, in Spello, Umbria, who themselves had been affected by an earthquake in 1997. The Poor Clares subsequently had to reside for 14 years in temporary housing. Speaking at the Mass, Pope Francis invited the nuns to “sow hope,” to share Christ with others both through prayer and with their lives. Jesus “is true wealth, even when we have nothing.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican firefighters sent to Amatrice were active in rescue efforts, helping to pull a young girl from the rubble. Unfortunately, other members of the girl’s family lost their lives in the quake. The firefighters’ also provided spiritual assistance to the victims, distributing rosaries and holy images blessed by Pope Francis.

Vatican doctors and nurses are also ready to depart for the earthquake zone as needed.

In the wake of the deadly quake on Wednesday that has killed more than 250 people, aftershocks continued to hamper relief efforts. Large aftershocks in the early hours of Friday brought down already cracked buildings, rattled residents and closed already clogged roads.

Firefighters and rescue crews using sniffer dogs worked in teams around the hard-hit areas in central Italy, pulling chunks of cement, rock and metal from mounds of rubble where homes once stood. Rescuers refused to say when their work would shift from saving lives to recovering bodies, noting that one person was pulled alive from the rubble 72 hours after the 2009 quake in the nearby town of L’Aquila.

WORLD TRADE CENTER HONORING QUAKE VICTIMS

(AP) –  New York City’s World Trade Center is honoring the victims of the earthquake in Italy. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday directed the building’s 408-foot (124-meter) spire be lit in the colors of the country’s flag – green, white and red. Wednesday’s earthquake killed at least 250 people in Amatrice and other towns in central Italy.

In a statement, Cuomo extended his condolences to the victims and said New York stands ready to lend support.

NORCIA IS LIKE A “GHOST TOWN,” SAYS BENEDICTINE SUBPRIOR

From an email from Fr. Benedict, subprior of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia. He is one of two who stayed in town.

NORCIA IS LIKE A “GHOST TOWN,” SAYS BENEDICTINE SUBPRIOR

Day 2 in Norcia has brought new challenges and a better sense of the damage, both physical and spiritual. The community departed Wednesday afternoon, 12 hours after the earthquake hit, for a temporary stay (Deo Volente, just 3 or 4 days) at St. Anselmo. While we hope they aren’t away for long and that it is safe enough for them to return soon, they are in fact in solidarity with most of the town of Norcia. Many townspeople have decided to sleep in their cars, in tents outside the city or with relatives elsewhere. The physical damage does not resemble in anyway the tragic images coming out of Amatrice, just 30 miles away. Here in Norcia, nearly all the buildings appear from the outside to be intact and stable. But the reality is many have suffered structural damage that makes them uninhabitable. In addition, secondary shocks have been coming every 15-20 minutes. Some today have been as high as 4.2

We monks who remained, staying in tents, have returned to the days of our youth, and are camping out in the garden area of the our monastery outside the walls. The tents were positioned far from any buildings so the we were not in danger, but tremors throughout the night made sleeping difficult — as did the occasional sound of wild boar in the woods! Restorations to our property outside the city walls (Fuori Le Mura) had only recently started. That restoration work on the Church was made with the latest anti-earthquake materials and, thanks be to God, it has mostly withstood the tremors.

Today, we monks made rounds in town and visited locals at their businesses and found many sad faces. Norcia thrives on tourism and citizens often earn enough in August to keep them going all year round. Not this year. The main hotel in town, that of the Bianconi family, went from 500 guests the night of the quake, to 20 the day after. Norcia is like a ghost town, except for journalists, aid workers and architects who wander around the town each trying in their own way to bring relief of some sort.

We have no specifics to share yet regarding damages we’ve faced, though we know they are extensive. Because of the frequent aftershocks, inspections were suspended earlier in the day. The bells are not ringing for prayer as we don’t know yet if the tower is safe, and the monks are praying for Norcia from Rome, where St. Benedict himself was once sent to study. We checked on the Poor Claire Nuns and Benedictine Nuns today and found the former without any damage to their convent, but the latter, the daughters of St. Scholastica, are sleeping in the laundry room while they assess damages.

We’ve begun drawing up plans for a campaign to help not just the monks but the other religious and lay faithful in town and we’ll pass those along in due course. For now, we continue to rely on your prayers and support.

Pax, Father Benedict

Subprior

HELPING THE BENEDICTINE MONKS – CARITAS WORKING 24/7 IN QUAKE-STRICKEN ITALY – THE CARABINIERI BLUE HELMETS SENT TO AID RESCUERS – A GOOD NEWS MOMENT; 8-YEAR OLD PULLED ALIVE FROM RUBBLE – THE UGLY SIDE OF THE QUAKE: LOOTERS

Here are a number of quake-related stories that might interest you, especially since so many of you have asked how you can help the numerous survivors who lost their homes and everything they own and are now living in tent camps

HELPING THE BENEDICTINE MONKS

No email message today from the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, but they have updated their website to enable donations: https://en.nursia.org/earthquake/

As you know, the monks decided to transfer from Norcia – many parts of which are not considered safe – to Rome where they will spend some time with the Benedictines of Sant’ Anselm.

If the name Sant’Anselmo sounds familiar, this is the church from which the Holy Father and others process to nearby Santa Sabina basilica on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes.

CARITAS WORKING 24/7 IN QUAKE-STRICKEN ITALY

Caritas and Church volunteers have been providing food to rescue workers and people affected by Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy, The quake struck on August 24 in the Rieti region causing severe damage and loss of life in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto.

CARITAS

Andrea Piscopo of Caritas Marche said, “relief efforts in Arquata and Pescara del Tronto continued throughout the night. We had spent the whole day with the rescue workers and the survivors. Thanks to local church, youth and Caritas, it has been possible to provide food to them. It is hard to say what the concrete needs will be until the situation stabilizes.” Caritas Italy has allocated €100,000 for the initial intervention. Caritas offices have offered local accommodations for people forced from their homes and, where possible, is providing counseling and basic necessities.

Father Francesco Soddu, director of Caritas Italy will lead a team on Friday, August 26 to meet with the local Caritas staff and authorities to discuss the most immediate actions required and those needed for the medium and long-term. He said, “Caritas has been active since the first hours after the earthquake. We have made available €100,000 for the most pressing needs.”

Caritas Italy is asking supporters to contribute to its national appeal so that it can help communities rebuild. This appeal will be bolstered by a nationwide parish collection in Italy on September 18. Caritas national organizations from Germany and Croatia to Nepal have been offering their support.

As in the case of the earthquake that hit L’Aquila in 2009, Caritas will focus on putting towns and villages back together – ranging from social services, infrastructure and job creation.

Donations can be made through the Caritas Italy website:http://www.caritasitaliana.it/home_page_archivio/come_contribuire/00000041_Dona_ora.html

THE CARABINIERI BLUE HELMETS SENT TO AID RESCUERS

(ANSA) – Rome, August 25 – Carabinieri police have deployed 430 officers in earthquake-stricken central Italy, including 30 “monuments men” from Italy’s new cultural defense Blue Helmets who are assessing the extent of the damage to local monuments, officials said Thursday.

“The Blue Helmets have gone into action for the first time,” said Brigadier General Marco Minicucci, who added that the unit’s baptism of fire was supposed to be in the Syrian city of Palmyra, which has been destroyed by Islamic fundamentalists. In addition, the carabinieri force has deployed a special forensic unit for the identification of victims who have not been claimed by relatives. That unit also went into action in Thailand after a deadly 2004 tsunami.

The total of 430 officers “went in support of their colleagues stationed at Amatrice, Accumoli, and Arquata, who immediately turned out to aid the population as soon as the first earthquake hit at 03:36 (on Wednesday),” the general told a press conference.

The mountain villages of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Arquata were the hardest hit by the quake, which has flattened them and killed hundreds.

Some images of Amatrice, before and after:

La combo mostra alcune strade di Amatrice tratte da Google Street View (sulla sinistra) e le stesse strade dopo il forte terremoto di oggi, 24 agosto 2016. ANSA/GOOGLE STREET VIEW-MASSIMO PERCOSSI +++EDITORIAL USE ONLY - NO SALES+++

ANSA/GOOGLE STREET VIEW-MASSIMO PERCOSSI

A GOOD NEWS MOMENT; 8-YEAR OLD PULLED ALIVE FROM RUBBLE

(ANSA) – Pescara del Tronto, August 25 – A firefighter who pulled an eight-year-old girl out of the rubble alive in Pescara del Tronto on Wednesday evening said Thursday he hoped she would “forget everything.” “I hope Giorgia remembers little of this place, rather I hope she forgets everything,” Angelo Moroni told ANSA. “The joy was huge,” he said of the successful rescue effort that saw firefighters dig with their bare hands for hours.

Giorgia was extracted from the debris of her home 15 hours after the 6.2-magnitude earthquake in central Italy that left at least 241 people dead. Her 10-year-old sister was found dead beside her. The girls’ parents were both pulled out alive.

As soon as she was freed, Giorgia “asked to drink, she reacted well,” Moroni said. “At times like that you don’t think, you go on for hours without feeling thirst or tiredness. We were sure she was safe only when we put her on a stretcher and doctors carried her away. Then we exploded with joy for this great result.”

Pescara del Tronto in the central Marche region is a village that was one of the places worst affected by the earthquake.

THE UGLY SIDE OF THE QUAKE: LOOTERS

Police in earthquake-hit Amatrice are stepping up their efforts to control attempted looting on Thursday, after detaining a man with a rolling suitcase who was allegedly stealing from homes there, ANSA sources said. Sources said the man was nearly lynched by a crowd before police arrived, in a climate of increasingly high tension following similar episodes of suspected looting on Wednesday in which some suspects were detained and others were arrested.

An Afghan refugee was also detained and later released Wednesday after attempting to remove rubble from a home where two Afghan women had been buried, in an area that rescue workers hadn’t yet reached.