Sunday, November 27, 2016

The European Union Will Rebuild the Norcia Basilica in Italy

           The European Union announced last week that it will rebuild the Fourteenth-Century Basilica of Norcia, Italy, which was destroyed, except for its façade, in last month’s aftershock of the August earthquake in central Italy that killed nearly 300 people. 

The church is located in the home town of St. Benedict of Norcia, the Father of Western Monasticism.  The Sixth-Century monk is regarded as one of the founders of Western European Civilization, as he established his Benedictine order which united Christians across what passed at the time for political borders and preserved civilization after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D., amidst the barbaric invasions and plagues of the Dark Ages, by becoming centers of learning.  Benedict’s order copied not only the Bible and other religious manuscripts, but also classical texts.  The Benedictines are thus responsible for the preservation of most of the ancient Greek and Roman works extant today.  Western Europe would later experience relative political unity under the Carolingian Franks, particularly Charles the Great (Charlemagne), the other co-founder of Western European Civilization, by the late Eighth Century. 

The European Union was established in the post-Second World War period to unite Europeans politically, under the belief that they shared “Europeanness.”  However, as I have posted, there are few, if any things that unite Europeans culturally and the one major thing that does, namely Christianity, has largely been abandoned by the E.U.  

Even if the E.U.’s intent in rebuilding the Norcia Basilica is only to restore an important historical, architectural and artistic treasure and to rebuild Italian tourism, the restoration of the church of the town of the Founder of Western Civilization is a reminder of the Christian, Medieval cultural roots of Western Europe.

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