Damage From the September 26 Earthquakes

St. Anthony Messenger Press received the following communication from our provincial communications office, St. John the Baptist Province:

Official Communication


Via S. Maria Mediatrice, 25 00165 Rome Tel.+39-6-684919 / Fax +39-6-6380292

1 October 1997

1. EARTHQUAKE IN CENTRAL ITALY —On 26 September 1997 two severe earthquake shocks struck, among other places, also those places dear to the heart of every Franciscan, especially in Assisi.

2.COMMUNIQUE BY THE MINISTERS GENERAL —The four Ministers General of the Franciscan Orders issued a joint communique to the press. They expressed their sorrow at the tragic death of two friars and two technicians, manifested their sympathy for the victims and solidarity for the thousands of persons deprived of their homes. They announced that as a sign of mourning and by reason of the exclusion from use of the Basilicas, the Solemnity of Saint Francis on 4 October would be celebrated with a single Eucharist on the piazza in front of St. Mary of the Angels.

3.THE MINISTER GENERAL O.F.M. —Immediately after the earthquake, Br. Giacomo Bini, at the time absent from Italy, wanted to be present at the places of the tragedy in the person of the Vicar General Br. Stephen Ottenbreit, the General Definitor Br. Antonio Riccio, the Director of the Office for Nuns Br. Herbert Schneider, and the Office for Communications of the General Curia.


St. Mary of the Angels: The Basilica is closed on account of heavy damage: the vault, the lateral and central naves, the tambour of the cupola. The Porziuncola chapel itself is miraculously intact. The friary has suffered structural subsidence and the seventy friars have been evacuated. Many of them are living in tents, others in neighbouring buildings.

St. Clare's: The Basilica of S. Chiara has suffered very heavy damage to its load-bearing structures: it has been closed to pilgrims. The convent shows signs of serious subsidence in its foundations and its load-bearing structures. For an indeterminate period the Poor Clare Sisters are being given shelter in the friary of St. Mary della Spineta in Fratta Todina, the sicks nuns in the monastery of Montecastrilli. Five Poor Clare Sisters have remained, sleeping in a tent, in order to guard the body of St. Clare. Not even the Second World War succeeded in making the Poor Clares leave the Protomonastero.

S. Damiano: Only recently restored, this has suffered serious damage to the church, St. Clare's infirmary, and the load-bearing walls of the friary. The fifteen novices have been transferred to Perugia.

The Monastery of S. Quirico: The seismic shocks have rendered the building unsafe and the community of Poor Clares has been given hospitality in our friary in Amelia.

The Chiesa Nuova: The little church built on the paternal house of Saint Francis has been closed as unusable. Here, too, the friars have been evacuated.

5.SOLIDARITY —The first impetus of solidarity by the friars of the Seraphic Province has been directed to the Poor Clares in various ways, above all by receiving them into their own friaries. The friars in temporary profession, under the guidance of their educators, are giving voluntary help in the camps of people evacuated from their homes. Our Office for Nuns is in constant touch with all our Sisters.

6.INVITATION —The Ministers Provincial are asked to pass on this information to the friars, the Franciscan world, our friends and the media, so that a real chain of solidarity may be created.

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