Break technically began on Tuesday night at 5:30 but we really couldn’t celebrate because we were too tired to move very fast. I think most of lethargy had to to with serious colds and all-pervading darkness of the evenings this time of year. In any case, Wednesday morning I ran away to Norcia. I needed TLM, confession in English, compatriots, children, discussions, and fermented hops. Not to mention the challenge of heading off into goodness-knows-where with limited Italian; its called a ‘wing and a prayer’ adventure and the secret is to know ~ before the trip begins ~ that no matter what, you will land feet-first into whatever comes along.
The first leg of the journey was more heart-throbbing than the rest of the travels. I stared out from my apartment with an hour to spare ~ and the train station is only twenty-five minutes away. It all seemed fine and glorious until I saw a the clock on the post-office read 8:45; the train was scheduled to 9:00. So I ran the rest of the way, huffing and puffing my way through morning traffic with desperate abandon for decorum or safety only to arrive at the Bergamo station a full forty minutes early. The clock had been fast, or maybe it had just stopped the night before ~ who knows!
The remaining trip had its moments, but those stories will have to wait for another time!
As I’m sure many of you already know, Norcia is the birthplace of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. The Benedictine monks that live in the monastery now are under the leadership of Fr. Cassian Folsom. They have an incredible story and you can read more about them here: http://osbnorcia.org/
The benefactors of my studies are remembered in a special way. I prayed for each of you and for your intentions here. And you made this trip possible! Thank you!
Here are some photos of Basilica, the Crypt, St. Benedict and views of Norcia from a hike I took one afternoon.
This statue of St. Benedict stands in the Piazza of Norcia, outside the Basilica.
St. Scholastica is portrayed with a dove. On the night she died, St. Benedict saw her soul, in the form of a dove. ascending to God. The words from the Song of Songs is ascribed to her: “Arise my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come…”
St. Benedict again, holding the Rule and crosier of an Abbott. At his feet there is a crow.
A Romanesque painting preserved in the Chapter room of the monastery.
If you notice the stones within the wall of the arch seem to be a diamond shape; this dates the house to before Benedict’s time. It was a style of Roman building popular in the 300’s. The stones are actually square, but turned on the point so they look like diamonds. Rather clever I think.
The crypt. The monks often chant the Divine Office here. These stones are the original of St. Benedict’s house.
Mass finishing up and the choir monks processing out.
Around the City:
The picture on the left is interesting because you are looking at old official measures of wheat and grain and other items that would be sold at the market. The Latin words for grains are inscribed on the front of each bin.
And, of course, the wild boar meat or cinghiale of Norcia is famous! It gave the air a distinctive scent; in fact, the smell of meat and cheese with the whiff of a wood-fire across the sharp autumn air had the effect of making us constantly hungry. But because our hostel didn’t have any cooking facilities available, we had little choice but to eat bread with cold meats and cheese, washed down with Monk Beer. By the way, words stumble over themselves to describe the monkish brew. Not even Gandalf himself could make a brew so good.
More mountains and hills of Umbria on my way home (to Bergamo):