A little help here, if you don’t mind, St. Philip…
I got off the bus yesterday in the brilliant sunshine, and a feeling of gloom and hopelessness settled over me like a dark fog. Fr. Benedict said in an interview recently that people have been very depressed, and I can understand now why.
The town looks like one gigantic construction zone, with piles of masonry everywhere, scaffolding, cranes and people in hard hats and steel-toed boots… in which the world’s biggest circus has come to camp for the winter. Norcia has become a strangely silent and depressing place. The centro is open, (and the blessed pizza place is running.. thanks be to God!). A few shops, a couple of restaurants are running, but at night it’s a ghost town, with most of the piazza blocked off and full of carefully preserved, numbered and labelled masonry from the basilica laid out, piles of rubble and equipment taking up the rest.
I was awake half the night, my mind racing around and around over the same territory. There are at least 3000 displaced people in Norcia, nearly all of whom want to come back, and 70% of the residential structures badly damaged, “inagibile,” or outright collapsed. Many, many people with a good deal more ‘natural right’ to be here than I can’t come home.