Bad Things, Good People


Though he would be amused to hear it, Benedict of Nursia (480-540) is one of the founders of what we now call Europe. Benedict spent most of his life trying to avoid civilization – whether of the decadent Romans or of the brutish Goths – but he established what would become the cultural engine of Europe for the next thousand years.

His hometown in Italian is called Norcia, and every church in it has been leveled by earthquake, including the basilica which is said to have been built over his birthplace.

No one was killed but many people are living in tents, among them the monks who keep the Benedictine tradition of work and prayer alive. Despite the antiquity of the place the average age of the monks is 34, which I suppose is a good thing: if your house falls down and you have to camp in the hills of Umbria in November, it is best to be on the young side.

Benedict would say that all buildings eventually fall down, just like Empires, so keep your heart focused on eternal things.


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