Vatican Buildings Damaged by Earthquake

Cracks found in facade of St. Paul Outside the Walls

Cracks found in facade of St. Paul Outside the Walls

Central Italy suffered another earthquake yesterday which was strong enough to cause damage to some of the Vatican’s oldest structures.

The Independent is reporting on Sunday’s earthquake, which registered at a magnitude of 6.6 with an epicenter near the ancient city of Norcia, which was the birthplace of St. Benedict.

The quake was strong enough to shake the foundations of much of Rome and the Vatican. It caused cracks to form in St Paul Outside the Walls basilica forcing authorities to close the building for several hours after some plaster fell and cracks appeared in the ancient building. Authorities were called in to check the structure before determining that the building was safe to re-open.

Several Vatican basilicas, including St. Peter’s, were checked for damage but none was found.

Other towns were not so lucky.

Sky News is reporting  that nuns and monks were forced to flee into the streets of Norcia when the quake struck and caused a cathedral and a church to crumble during morning Mass.

Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia which was completely destroyed

Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia which was completely destroyed

“The monks of Norcia said the 14th century Basilica of St Benedict had been ‘flattened’ and some knelt in the rubble of the landmark,” Sky reports.

Another church, St Mary Argentea, known for its 15th century frescoes, was also seriously damaged.

Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla told Sky: “It’s as if the whole city fell down.”

Sunday’s quake struck in an area of Italy that has been hit by a series of quakes, including one in August that left 298 people dead. Two massive tremors occurred in the area last week just before the Sunday’s quake struck.

The town’s deputy mayor, Pierluigi Altavilla, said: “It was like a bomb went off. We are starting to despair. There are too many quakes now, we can’t bear it anymore.”

After pledging to rebuild the homes and churches that were destroyed in the latest earthquake, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised to rebuild everything.

“We are dealing with marvelous territories, territories of beauty,” he said, adding that country’s “soul is disturbed” by the destruction caused by the quakes.

Pope Francis mentioned the quake during his weekly Sunday blessing, saying that he was “praying for the injured and the families who have suffered the most damage, as well as for rescue and first aid workers.”

The good news is that thus far, there are no reports of deaths with just 20 people suffering minor injuries.

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