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Norcia Reboot: a new life in the old town

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading back up to Norcia. I think this will be a chance to reboot, to try to get better at all this praying business,

to maybe work on not using Bad Swears,

try to figure out what holiness really is and how to find it.

I could use some help with expenses, and yes, this is a bleg, but there’s a surprise at the end, and a different kind of request…

Scolastica of Norcia, ora pro nobis.

I am often asked, “How did you know so quickly that Bergoglio was going to be such a disaster?” I try not to say the first thought that comes to mind: “How is it that you didn’t?” The moment he walked out onto the loggia, he was sending the signals, his dress, his gestures, his words all speaking the language he intended us to understand; it was as though he was looking straight at us. Those first hours and days he was all but shouting his blasphemous intentions. I have not yet met a Traditionalist Catholic who did not understand him almost immediately. By its light we see everything else.

How did I get here? There is one constant impulse I’ve felt throughout life that I don’t know the origin of, this drive to know what’s really true. The need to know the truth has been a lash prompting this long chase half way around the world. Searching for the One True Thing has been Ariadne’s thread, unwound behind every step through the strange labyrinth of this life. But however strange it seems, here I am and I’ve had my answers and know what to do.

And now I’m going back to Norcia, but not immediately and not all at once. There are some things to be done first, and some precautions and preparations it would just be sensible to make. As strange as it may sound, and ongoing quakes notwithstanding, I’m going to go out on a thin limb and say that I think I’m being “called” to go back and that whatever is going to happen next is going to happen there.

I’ve decided to start canvassing the Traditional Catholic world to find a… well, a “spiritual roommate,” let’s call it for now. I know there are many out there who have told me how much they would like to visit Norcia, but of course the quakes have meant we had to put plans like that aside. But when they are finished – and they will eventually – I could really use both some help and some company.

First, the spiritual life – that is, the day-to-day routine of the Divine Office (just three times a day, not eight) is a lot easier to do on the buddy system.

As life stabilizes in Norcia, and things settle into a routine, the time will come to start a kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign to buy a piece of property, something well outside town in the countryside, close enough to the monks’ land to participate daily in their Offices and Mass. This, we hope, can be made into a place for prayer and contemplation, for solitude but also community for women, for those who want to visit, but also for those who might want to stay a while.

Of course, who would dream in such a time of founding a religious community? It would be madness, no? So obviously no one would dream of suggesting such a thing. But no bishop, no pope, no authority in the world can stop someone from praying together with one’s roommates. And even praying quite a lot, in an orderly, “regular” way… Right?

Certainly Santa Scolastica, having been born at the end of the Old Empire that was about to collapse, would not have thought that was what she was doing. She merely lived with a group of ladies of like mind, and prayed.

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11 thoughts on “Norcia Reboot: a new life in the old town”

  1. Hilary White says:


    before the quakes you could get a modest little place for 45,000 E or a grand palazzo all renovated for half a million. Now, however, I think that if there are any residential properties not damaged the owners will be holding on to them for dear life. 75% of the housing stock in the area is “inagibile” which means too damaged to be used. A good deal of it that doesn’t look too bad has hidden structural damage and will have to be bulldozed. All the rest is collapsed completely.

  2. Magdalene says:

    I also knew very early on that things were not as they should be. I ordered the first encyclical, said to be partly written by Pope Benedict, but never read it and through it out. I do not want to read anything from this pope! The stuff I see online is bad enough! Then he started the persecution of the Franciscans of the Immaculate with their holy charism and deposed their holy founder. Soon he would close their seminary. Recently he said why: because he ‘worries’ (hates) those ‘restorationist’ order that go for prayer, penance, and asceticism….you know, the stuff of saints. Then the name calling started. Then the heresy and ambiguity….

    I have a friend who wants to enter a traditional order but the Vatican said they cannot accept vocations. She wants to come to Italy and live the charism. She can stay with various convents as a discerner. But perhaps this very holy young lady might also be someone you would enjoy knowing.

  3. John says:

    I’m curious – on average what is the cost to purchase a modest stone house in and around Norcia?

  4. Hilary White says:

    Not in a position to build a house of any design. And planning permission in Umbria for anything other than “traditional” stone houses is nearly impossible to get, even if I did own land. Right now I’ll be going back to my house.

  5. Felix M says:

    Shortly after he was elected, he broke the Canon Law on washing lay men’s feet at the Holy Thursday.

    Then I realized he is yet another wilful and rebellious cleric.

  6. Janet Wilkie says:

    You might look at A-frame designs. They are cheap to build, and as structural triangles, extremely resistant to being shaken around. They can also be built with vertical side walls, but with the A framing extending to the ground, somewhat like a flying buttress. They can be quite beautiful, and can be connected with smaller A-corridors as a community grows.

    Bob Vila (of This Old House) has some nice ones. Well, some of them are nice. One is absolutely adorable. They do not have to look 1960’s. The shape naturally lends itself to a soaring chapel feeling, even in a small house. It also sheds snow and rain very well. The steeper the roof, the longer it lasts, other things being equal.

    Make absolutely sure that you build on solid rock, not on dirt. Dirt amplifies shock waves. The higher up you go, the more likely that the rock will be closer to the surface. Dirt erodes downhill. You have some nice, flattish hilltops around you, but I don’t know if they are near the monks.

    The internal bracing should be triangular too. This is important; it adds incredible strength, as well as stunning visual beauty. You will need an architect, but its not fancy design. Once you have one, others can use the same plan.

    It seems like you are starting the beguinage you had written about some time ago.

    You might want to pass the A-frame idea on to the monks. I think we are in for a lot more earthquakes.

  7. Tom Miller says:

    I would like to contribute also visit how to proceed?

  8. Linda says:

    One of your finest.
    Most excellent Narnia allusions.

    You’re going home.

  9. Long-Skirts says:

    “How did you know so quickly that Bergoglio was going to be such a disaster?”

    As soon as they announced that he was a Jesuit, I thought, “Oh, Lort!!”

  10. Fuquaysteve says:

    Well done…I will help as I can.

  11. louiseyvette says:

    God bless your endeavours!

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