Of a number of significant centres of Augustinian involvement there, this certainly has been the case, e.g., at Genazzano, where is located the shrine of the Mother of Good Counsel (in 2017 it will be 550 years old), and at Pavia where the mortal remains of St Augustine have resided since about the year 720 AD.
On 30 October 2016 two other Augustinian places in central Italy experienced the most recent earthquake woes. These were the two towns associated with possibly the two best-known members of the Augustinian Order who are officially listed by the Church as being saints, viz., St Nicholas of Tolentine OSA (1245 – 1305) and St Rita of Cascia OSA (1381 – 1457). With a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale, the earthquake of 30 October 2016 was the worst in central Italy since a 6.9 temblor near Naples killed about three thousand people on 23 November 1980.
The following four paragraphs were generously written on 26 November 2016 by Fr Luciano De Michieli OSA, the Augustinian Prior Provincial of Italy. The translation of his words into the Engliah language was not his responsibility.
“The Convent (Augustinian Priory) of Tolentino was badly damaged and what presently is useable is only that small part traditionally referred to as the medieval halls that are under the property and are very solid. The medieval halls are used to eat and pray and as well during the day to accommodate some young people. Mass is celebrated under a big tent in the courtyard of the convent.”
“Only four friars were permitted to stay behind after the earthquake. They are living in trailers and are now trying to have a little wooden house temporarily placed in the monastery garden. Thank God the Giotto fresco chapel and the crypt with the body of Saint Nicholas suffered no damage except for small pieces becoming detached. The Church experienced some injury; major surgery is required, and obtaining the necessary funding will not be easy because earthquake damage is extensive throughout Tolentino and its countryside. The church façade has already been secured with a scaffold that protectively supports it. It is hoped that at least part of the Church will re-open for Christmas, but that as yet is uncertain.”
The earliest work on sections of the Tolentino Augustinian buildings dates back to the thirteenth century, and parts of it rebuilt and completed in about the year 1435. The Cappellone di San Nicola (the underground chapel crypt) is decorated with a cycle of frescoes of 1330-1348 and represents the most emblematic example of painting in the Marche region of Italy at that time.
Basilica di San Nicola – Tolentino. Excellent photographs. http://www.iluoghidelsilenzio.it/basilica-di-san-nicola-tolentino-mc
CasciaThe basilica shrine of St Rita (a relatively modern building completed in 1948) has been closed until its structural integrity is confirmed by engineers and any essential repairs are completed. The closure of the shrine was a step that had not been judged necessary after smaller earth tremors previously in 1979 and 1997. The Rector of the Cascia shrine, Fr Bernardino Pinciaroli OSA reported, “The damage is not very serious but it is appropriate to close the basilica until technical inspections verify the situation.” Because of damage to the nuns’ convent, almost all of the thirty-five members of the community were temporarily moved to Lecceto monastery near Siena.
The following four paragraphs were kindly written on 26 November 2016 by Fr Luciano De Michieli OSA, the Augustinian Prior Provincial of Italy. The translation of his words into the English language was not his responsibility.
“Cascia had even more problems than Tolentino because it was closer to the epicentre of the earthquake at Norcia. Thank God most of the facilities of the friars and nuns generally resisted the tremors well because of the established building requirements for anti-seismic safeguards. In some of these buildings we are hosting people made homeless by the earthquake. All except four of the Augustinian contemplative nuns were transferred to their monastery of Lecceto near Siena.”
“The community of Augustinian Nuns will be able to return to Cascia in mid-December as long as it is confirmed by the authorities that at least part of the monastery is habitable. So also the friars were transferred to other convents. Now live and pray together in the convent of the friars: four friars, four nuns, and six lay assistants of the Shrine. Regarding that part of the Church with the urn containing the body of St. Rita, no injuries were sustained at all. The Basilica has rather serious lesions in the mosaic on the underside of its cupola (dome).”
“Effort is being made to put in place some safety precautions that will once again enable pilgrims to visit the shrine of Saint Rita. The Masses will be celebrated in the lower basilica. This hopefully will begin by 4 December, the feast of Saint Barbara; she is the patron saint of firefighters who would like to celebrate their feast day at the shrine as a sign of hope for all countries hit by the earthquakes. It would be really a grace of St Rita!”
“Until now in fact all churches in the nearby valleys have collapsed or been rendered unusable and therefore Mass is celebrated in the tents or, in our case, in a small room under the arcades of the avenue leading to the shrine. Hopefully the ability to start accessing the urn of St Rita will happen soon, and will be a river of hope and an aid to rebuild and start again.”Update PageThere is now a follow-up page: click hereLinkShrine of St Rita at Cascia. A quick explanation.http://www.bellaumbria.net/Cascia/saint_rita.htm