Magazine article The Christian Century

Benedict Nivakoff

Magazine article The Christian Century

Benedict Nivakoff

Article excerpt

When a 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck Norcia, Italy, Benedict Nivakoff and the other Benedictine monks who live there escaped injury.

But their historic basilica and monastery, built above the birthplace of St. Benedict, collapsed on October 30.

"Is this the end of the book or the beginning of a new chapter?" asked Nivakoff, an American monk from Connecticut who has lived in Norcia for 15 years and is the subprior of the community. "We want to make this a new chapter."

The 16 monks launched a fund-raising campaign called Deep Roots to rebuild the 14th-century basilica and monastery and to breathe new life into Norcia. They have already drawn the support of billionaire cashmere manufacturer Brunello Cucinelli, who lives in Solomeo, another medieval hilltop town 90 miles away.

"I will help them with sustenance and the monastery's reconstruction," Cucinelli told the Italian daily La Repubblica. "Their presence has brought back spirituality to [Norcia]."

Norcia--also known by its Latin name, Nursia--was the home of St. Benedict, founder of Western monasticism. Norcia's Benedictine monastery was active from the tenth century until it was suppressed under Napoleon 200 years ago. …

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