IN BRIEF

Don’t forget to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm ET. I bring some commentary or news from Rome each week to both shows. If you watch EWTN in Europe, the Monday shows airs on Tuesday at 10am and Wednesday at 6 pm. The Thursday show airs Friday at 10 and Saturday at 6 pm.

IN BRIEF

VATICAN WELCOMES THREE NEW SYRIAN FAMILIES. They have found shelter and welcome in the Vatican as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution. All told, 13 people from two Christian families and one Muslim family have been able make their homes in three Vatican-owned apartments recently vacated by other refugees who have since moved on to more permanent situations. Two of the families fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March. The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table. (http://www.news.va/en/news/the-vatican-welcomes-new-refugee-families-from-syr)

POPE SAYS IT IS TIME TO END “WORSENING TRAGEDY OF CHILD trafficking and slavery. He said this in a Message sent Monday to a Vienna “Trafficking in Persons” conference. The Pope’s words came in a message read out by Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference.” In hisMessage, Pope Francis spoke about the goal of prevention: “It should be acknowledged that very little has been done to address the “why” of many young people being tricked or sold into trafficking and slavery.” He said, “Demand and supply, in turn, are deeply rooted in the three great issues of conflicts and wars, economic privation and natural disasters, or what the victims experience as extreme poverty, underdevelopment, exclusion, unemployment and lack of access to education.” Protection against human trafficking, the Pope said, begins with protection of the family. (http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-to-osce-human-trafficking-conference): Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ message to the OSCE Conference.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI URGES GENEROSITY FOR ANNUAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION. The cardinal, who heads the Congregation for Oriental Churches, called on Catholics to be generous in their supòport of projects in the Holy Land. In an interview with SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops Conference the cardinal talks about the importance of contributing to the upkeep of the sacred sites, while at the same time supporting the search for peace in the land where Jesus lived. Faced with the events that “take place in this troubled region of the world”, the cardinal says, there is a risk that we see them as unconnected to our own lives, “as if we had no responsibility.”  (http://www.news.va/en/news/card-sandri-on-good-friday-collection-for-the-holy)

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

THE RESPONSE TO PHENOMENON OF MIGRATION: WELCOME, PROTECT, PROMOTE, INTEGRATE – VATICAN DELEGATION TO ATTEND SEMINAR AT AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY

Pope Francis tweeted today: God knows better than we do about what we need. We must have faith, because his ways are different from ours.

And yesterday: If evil is contagious, so is goodness. Let us be infected by goodness and let us spread goodness!

THE RESPONSE TO PHENOMENON OF MIGRATION: WELCOME, PROTECT, PROMOTE, INTEGRATE

This morning the Holy Father welcomed the participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, and told them the political community, civil society and the Church must offer a shared response to the complexities of the phenomenon of migration today, a response that “may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.” (photo news.va)

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The two-day forum has been organized by the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalbrini International Migration Network. Its theme is: “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action.”  Francis said “development and integration were the very reason I wanted to establish the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, with a Section concerned exclusively for migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking.”

Pope Francis singled out particularly vulnerable group of migrants, exiles and refugees:  “children and young people who are forced to live far from their homeland and who are separated from their loved ones.”

“The beginning of this third millennium,” he stated, “is very much characterized by migratory movement which, in terms of origin, transit and destination, involves nearly every part of the world.  Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions: The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. 

To welcome.  “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 12 January 2015).  Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.  For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels.  A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter.  The enormous gathering together of persons seeking asylum and of refugees has not produced positive results.  Instead these gatherings have created new situations of vulnerability and hardship.  More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success.

To protect.  My predecessor, Pope Benedict, highlighted the fact that the migratory experience often makes people more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 18 October 2005).  We are speaking about millions of migrant workers, male and female – and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations – of those exiled and seeking asylum, and of those who are victims of trafficking.  Defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.  Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritising constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programmes in the fight against “the trafficking of human flesh” which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church.

To promote.  Protecting is not enough.  What is required is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.  This “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” (Apostolic Letter Humanam Progressionem, 17 August 2016).  Development, according to the social doctrine of the Church (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 373-374), is an undeniable right of every human being.  As such, it must be guaranteed by ensuring the necessary conditions for its exercise, both in the individual and social context, providing fair access to fundamental goods for all people and offering the possibility of choice and growth.  Also here a coordinated effort is needed, one which envisages all the parties involved: from the political community to civil society, from international organisations to religious institutions.  The human promotion of migrants and their families begins with their communities of origin.  That is where such promotion should be guaranteed, joined to the right of being able to emigrate, as well as the right to not be constrained to emigrate.”

To integrate.  Integration, which is neither assimilation nor incorporation, is a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.  Concerning those who arrive and who are duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws, the family dimension of the process of integration must not be overlooked: for this reason I feel the need to reiterate the necessity, often presented by the Magisterium (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 15 August 1986), of policies directed at favouring and benefiting the reunion of families.  With regard to indigenous populations, they must be supported, by helping them to be sufficiently aware of and open to processes of integration which, though not always simple and immediate, are always essential and, for the future, indispensable.  This requires specific programmes, which foster significant encounters with others.  Furthermore, for the Christian community, the peaceful integration of persons of various cultures is, in some way, a reflection of its catholicity, since unity, which does not nullify ethnic and cultural diversity, constitutes a part of the life of the Church, who in the Spirit of Pentecost is open to all and desires to embrace all (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 5 August 1987).

The Pope closed his lengthy address by highlighting “a duty of solidarity.  In the face of tragedies which take the lives of so many migrants and refugees – conflicts, persecutions, forms of abuse, violence, death – expressions of empathy and compassion cannot help but spontaneously well-up. ‘Where is your brother’? (Gen 4:9): this question which God asks of man since his origins, involves us, especially today with regard to our brothers and sisters who are migrating: “This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us” (Homily at the “Arena” Sports Camp, Salina Quarter, Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).  Solidarity is born precisely from the capacity to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and to take responsibility for these needs.  Upon this, in short, is based the sacred value of hospitality, present in religious traditions.  For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).  The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.  Thus “a change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).

VATICAN DELEGATION TO ATTEND SEMINAR AT AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue has announced that council president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, accompanied by Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary, and Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, head of the Office for Islam, will be in Cairo, Egypt, on February 22-23, to participate at a seminar at the University of Al-Azhar, with the theme: “The role of al-Azhar al-Sharif and of the Vatican in countering the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion.”

The cardinal president will lead the Catholic delegation, which will also include Archbishop Bruno Musarò, apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

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After the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib on 23 May 2016, the Secretary of the Dicastery has travelled to Cairo several times, where he participated in many meetings and preliminary preparations for this event.

This meeting will conclude on the vigil of the anniversary of the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Al-Azhar, which took place on February 24, 2000.

 

POPE EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR NEW DICASTERY TO ACTIVATE STATUTE

POPE EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR NEW DICASTERY TO ACTIVATE STATUTE

A Note sent out today by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development explains that Holy Father has allowed this new Vatican office more time to fulfill the re-organization requirements of moving from four pontifical councils to becoming one single office. The Note was dated January 26, 2017.

This communiqué notes that this Dicastery came into being last August 2016 with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter motu proprio Humanam progressionem. This was accompanied by what was called “an experimental Statute” that would “guide and orient its activity.”

On January 1, 2017, the new Dicastery was to “enter into function,” at which time the four pontifical councils, whose duties were taken over by the Dicastery, would cease to exist. Those councils were Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Ministry for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and the Ministry for Health Care Workers. It was noted that, “within the new Dicastery a section was created that deals specifically with matters concerning refugees and migrants that is in contact with and receives instructions from the Holy Father.” (ANSA photo of Pope and migrants on Lampedusa island)

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“Given that the time allowed for this reorganization was very narrow,” continues the Note, “the Holy Father has extended the time, granting until Easter 2017 for the full activation of the statute.”

The Note explains that the Dicastery “is presided over by a Prefect, assisted by a Secretary and at least one Under-secretary, who can also be faithful lay people.” The prefect for this Dicastery is Cardinal Peter Turkson. Two under-secretaries have been nominated, “whose specific duty is to accompany the section for migrants and refugees. Until others are named, Cardinal Turkson has decided to main, in the vest of ‘delegates’ those who had headed the four councils. Thus, at least temporarily, categories for “secretary delegate” and under-secretary delegates” have been created.

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The Dicastery communiqué indicates that, at least in a transitory fashion, the offices occupied by the four councils in the San Callisto building in Trastevere or on Via della Conciliazione continue to function, as do the current phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses and social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels (which the Note listed). A general email address has been activated. All of this will be gradually modified in coming months as a single office is eventually formed.

HOPE SHOULD COME FROM TRUST IN GOD’S WORD, NOT FALSE IDOLS – MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED BY VATICAN MIGRATION, REFUGEE OFFICE – TWO PRIESTS ATTACKED IN ST. MARY MAJOR – 800 DEAD, 16 CHURCHES DESTROYED IN NIGERIA BY TERRORIST GROUP

HOPE SHOULD COME FROM TRUST IN GOD’S WORD, NOT FALSE IDOLS

Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on Christian hope at his Wednesday audience in the Paul VI Hall and stressed that true hope is born of trust in God’s word, not in false idols such as wealth, power, beauty or even fortune tellers.

At one point, he departed from his prepared catechesis about false idols to tell a story about fortune tellers in a park in his native Buenos Aires. He said he used to walk through the park and see countless very small tables where these seers or fortune tellers were seated, talking to individuals.

Francis said: “It was always the same story: there’s a woman in your life, a man will come, everything will be just fine.” The Pope lamented that people paid these seers to get a sense of security, “ a false sense of security, one of – and pardon me! – stupidity.” He said it was so sad that people could feel better, more hopeful, with such false idols rather than having hope in Jesus Christ: “How very sad we do not trust Him as much!”

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Our hope, said the Holy Father, “must be rooted in what can actually help in living and giving meaning to our existence,” not in illusions that are both useless and meaningless.

He noted that, “hope in God demands strength and perseverance, whereas these false gods promise an easy security, a future we can control. The Psalmist denounces this kind of idolatry, stating that those who put their trust in images that are the work of human hands, will come to be like them: spiritually blind, deaf and insensible.”

The false idols that the Pope mentioned, “with their illusion of eternity and omnipotence,” include values such as physical beauty, he said. This is not bad itself, but “when it becomes an idol to which we sacrifice everything, they are all realities that confuse the mind and the heart.”

The Pope interrupted himself once again to tell a story. When we have false idols and don’t trust in the Lord, “It’s terrible, it hurts the soul what I heard one time years ago in the diocese of Buenos Aires: a woman, a good woman, beautiful, very, very beautiful and who bragged about her beauty, said with great naturalness, ‘Yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is so important’.He said this surely puts one on the wrong path and does not lead to lasting happiness.

“God is always greater than we are,” said Francis, “and we, created in his image and likeness, cannot reduce him to our size or fabricate other gods, made in our own image and tailored to our desires. By trusting in God’s word and hoping in his promises, we become more and more like him, sharing in his life and rejoicing in his provident care, revealed in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus his Son.”

At the end of the catechesis, the Pope said, “Now I must tell you something that I don’t want to tell you.” He held up a red audience ticket, saying tickets to papal events, whether in St. Peter’s Square or the audience hall are always entirely free, noting that the tickets say this in six languages. Anyone who wants you to pay for a ticvket, said Francis, is a fraud, devious and a delinquent.

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He called weekly audiences a chance “to talk to the Pope, to visit the Pope. If someone says you must pay, they are ripping you off. Beware – tickets are free!”

MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED BY VATICAN MIGRATION, REFUGEE OFFICE

The Migration and Refugee Section of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has announced it is launching its first media campaign.

Although the Dicastery is run by Cardinal Peter Turkson – who had been serving as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace – the Migration and Refugee Section is being led for the time being by Pope Francis himself, to show his particular concern during the ongoing refugee crisis.

The new media campaign is being launched to coincide with the 103rd World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which is observed 15 January 2017.

From 12 to 15 January 2017, the tweets of Pope Francis will focus on migrants and refugees, and will link directly to the Section’s Facebook page, which will present a brief story and reflection relevant to each day’s topic.

The media accounts of the new section are listed below
Twitter Accounts:
English – https://twitter.com/M_RSection
Italian – https://twitter.com/M_RSezione
Spanish – https://twitter.com/M_RSeccion
French – https://twitter.com/M_RSection_Fr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MandRSection/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/migrants-&-refugees-section

TWO PRIESTS ATTACKED IN ST. MARY MAJOR

A man entered the sacristy of a Roman basilica on January 7 and used a broken bottle to attack two priests.

Worshippers at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore heard shouts from the sacristy as a 42-year-old man cut the faces of Father Angelo Gaeta, the sacristan, and Father Adolfo Ralf. Police soon apprehended the perpetrator.

The victims, according to Italy’s state radio and television network, are priests of the Franciscan Friars of Immaculate who have been critical of the institute’s founder, Father Stefano Maria Manelli. The network reported that the attacker’s motive was unknown and that he may have been psychologically disturbed. He was heard to have said, “I am misunderstood.”

800 DEAD, 16 CHURCHES DESTROYED IN NIGERIA BY TERRORIST GROUP

A report from Nigeria from Fides News service, an agency of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples states that over 800 people have been killed and 16 churches destroyed by the terrorist group of Fulani herdsmen.

Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan in the state of Kaduna told Fides, “In the last three months attacks have increased carried out by the Fulani Herdsmen Terrorist (FHT) in more than half of the territory of the southern State of Kaduna.” Bishop Bagobiri was speaking in Rome where he was visiting the Italian headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

“In the West, this group is almost unheard of, he said, “but it has been responsible since September of fires in 53 villages, of the death of 808 persons, the wounding of 57 others, the destruction of 1,422 houses and 16 churches.

He also noted that from 2006 to 2014, more than 12,000 Christians were killed and 2,000 churches destroyed because of terrorism in Nigeria. These crimes were mainly committed by the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram, he said, but Boko Haram is not the only group that spreads terror in the African country, and he highlighted the role of Fulani herdsmen in recent years.

The Fulani are a nomadic ethnic group that has been protagonists of recurrent conflicts with farmers in the area. However in recent times the attacks are of a completely different kind compared to the old clashes between farmers and herders, as the latter use “sophisticated weapons that did not exist before, such as the AK-47, said Bishop Bagobiri, adding that it is not known where the weapons come from.

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.

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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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