Benedictine Prior of Norcia Benedict Nivakoff informed Mr Orbán that Hungary’s “generous donation of HUF 170 million” – with which, as part of the Hungary Helps Programme, the Hungarian government assisted with the rebuilding of the basilica and monastery which collapsed during the earthquake that hit Italy in 2016 – has reached its goal.
The basilica was built at the birthplace of Saint Benedict of Nursia, patron saint of Europe and founder of the Order of Saint Benedict, and his twin sister Saint Scholastica; it is a prominent European site from both a sacral and cultural point of view.
In his message of thanks, the Benedictine prior wrote Saint Benedict established the first monastery in Italy 1,500 years ago, and this has an impact of many centuries on Western civilisation which lasts to this day. With this, we are becoming a part of a spiritual tradition that is rooted in the Holy Trinity, and is expressed in the whole world, “we see it and inhale it every day”. The “life of love” that Saint Benedictine preached brought people to God, to eternity, and thus to freedom, the church leader wrote.
“Hungary’s donation to our project in Norcia is a sign of hope that it is still worth living and building for God,” Benedict Nivakoff wrote, adding that “in today’s world, governments of such conviction are rare. For many, the church is only useful if they do something practical. However, when a monastery points at God with its mere existence, it helps us to see today’s problems in the right perspective. St. Stephen, similar to St. Benedict, brought order to chaos, and with your assistance we are now trying to do the same. As a small token of appreciation in recognition of the Hungarian donation and your advocacy of the protection of persecuted Christians worldwide, in the church of our monastery, we will place a statue of St. Stephen I in the altar of the Chapel of Christ the King.
At the end of his letter, the prior invited Mr Orbán to pay a visit to the monastery in Norcia “so that we may share this holy place with you in person”. “May our prayers said before the statue of St. Stephen bring you and your compatriots the peace of Christ, the order of love, and the happiness that can only be found in God,” the letter written to the Prime Minister concludes.