Abbey of Sant’Eutizio: From Serenity to Earthquake Fracas
No, art is not eternal. No, Italy’s artistic patrimonies are not inviolable. The earthquake this August with beastly aftershocks in October have taught us this. But earth trembles keep underscoring the point. Enough. Basta. We’ve got it.
But the losses are painful. A laceration to the soul and spirit is the October 2016 earthquake devastation of the Abbey of Sant’Eutizio.
One of Italy’s most ancient monastic retreats, the Abbey of Sant’Eutizio outside Preci (near Norcia – and close to the epicenter of the October, 2016 earthquake activity) spans over 1500 years of spiritual history. The first to seek peace in the wooded Val Castoriana were Syrian monks and hermits in the the fifth century, carving out grottoes in the porous pietra sponga (porous travertine of the area). They lived two to a grotto, the elderly hermit – called reverently “abba” by the younger one – was the teacher, instructing his younger companion in the way of life of the hermit. Truly, a “pre-Benedictine” monastic colony, centuries later the monks will adopt the Benedictine rule.
Saint Benedict himself, founder of western monasticism, was born in nearby Norcia in the late 5th century and was a visitor here, seeking spiritual guidance from Santo Spes, one of the original founders (with Eutizio) of the community. San Francesco, too, stopped here on his way to Ascoli Piceno, eager to visit the abbey’s famous scuola chirurgica preciana (school of surgery of Preci), known throughout Europe.
On a vist there a few years ago, a visiting friend and I felt the monastic serenity permeating the abbey and surroundings as we explored the ancient hermits’ grottoes and abbey church, the tiny medieval village of Aquaro perched above on the wooded mountainside, like a lookout for the abbey.
After “spiritual satiation,” Cindy and I enjoyed “temporal satiation” with a memorable lunch cooked by a young chef in the restaurant flanking the abbey. I remember that pasta all’amatriciana, grilled local lamb, the wild boar with shaved black truffle – and the young chef/owner’s welcoming enthusiasm. I thought I would never forget his name – but I have.
I’ve seen the photos of the earthquake flagellation of Sant’Eutizio. Che tragedia. I wonder if the restaurant is damaged? Where the young chef will work now?
Earthquake devastation of the Abbey of Sant’Eutizio…
May the monastic serenity of the Abbey of Sant’Eutizio be restored. We all need places like that.
Read about famous school of surgery of Preci
See the destruction on YouTube
Click here to read about Preci (near epicenter and near Norcia, also devastated)
Read about nearby Norcia’s earthquake devastation
Read about the Umbrian goodness for which Norcia is/was famous
Read about St. Benedict of Norcia, founder of western monasticism and patron saint of Europe
Click here for news on the Benedictine monks of Norcia
Read about nearby San Salvatore, also devastated in the October 30, 2016 earthquake
Read more about – and see! – damage to cemeteries – and the psychological trauma
Read about – and see! – Visso..and Elio
Read where we were the night of the October earthquake
Click here to read about the August 24, 2016 earthquake damage in Umbria
Read about earthquake benefit dinners
Read more on the benefit dinners following the earthquake
Click here for news on our benefit dinner starring pasta all’amatriciana
See the recipe for pasta alla norcina (a possible earthquake-benefit dish)
Click here for earthquake news on splendid Castelluccio
Read about Castelluccio di Norcia and lentils as quake solidarity
Read about Norcia’s norcinerie, needing a comeback
Read about Cascia and earthquake concerns there