Anne's Blog

Norcia’s Basilica di San Benedetto: No, Art is Not Eternal

Date: October 31, 2016 - categories: , , , - 4 Comments

Heart-breaking updates of the continuing losses of our rich artistic patrimony come to us in waves – like angry swells breaking on a rocky beach. Mother Earth is still in a rage. We’re hoping she’ll soon be soothed..

..and now more than ever, a thought I often share with my tour guests while showing them the wonders of our Basilica di San Francesco, has become a mantra: “Feast your eyes on these splendors and fix them in your mind, for seeing them in a book will never be the same.”

As I have written, the 1997 earthquake was a lesson for us: for two years during the Basilica restoration, we had had no access to the upper level of our Basilica di San Francesco. Before that earthquake, I had taken for granted the artistic splendors around me. They’d always be there, I’d assumed. Art seemed eternal.

When I last visited Norcia, I remember reveling in the majesty of the Basilica di San Benedetto, said to be built on the site of the home of San Benedetto and his twin sister, Santa Scholastica, born in 480 A.D. The rose window especially caught my eye.





That rose window remains: the façade of the Basilica di San Benedetto stands stalwartly as if in defiance to the powers of Nature. The rest of the Basilica surrendered to the seismic throttling of October 30, 2016 at 7 41. a.m.






I’d feasted my eyes many times over the years on the splendors of Norcia, tried to fix them in my mind. I took a few photos. The photos and my mind’s images are all I have now. No, art is not eternal.






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 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
Click here to read about Visso, near Norcia, also damaged in the October, 2016 earthquake
Read about the curious history of Preci (near Oct 30 2016 quake epicenter) – and earthquake damage
Click here for news on the glorious Benedictine abbey of Sant’Eutizio (outside Preci)
Read about the earthquake trauma of missing cemetery visits on November 2nd
See the recipe for pasta alla norcina (a possible earthquake-benefit dish)
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
Click here to read about the Feast of St. Benedict in his hometown of Norcia


  • Ann says:

    It is heartbreaking to see so much loss and devastation.

  • Lyn Beckenham says:

    Shocking! I’m so saddened to see the loss of such beauty.

  • ALLEN FURIA says:

    Such a beautiful, historic site and now it is gone in a puff of smoke. Sad to all of us who love Italy so much.

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Thanks to each for your thoughts. My mantra remains: art is not eternal. See it when you can, imprint the image in your mind. To see it in a book: not the same

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