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In Memoriam: Norcia’s Co-Cathedral and Madonna Addolorata

Thursday, November 10, 2016 6:26
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The co-cathedral of Norcia (no longer with us)
A week ago, I spoke of the Basilica in Norcia and how much we will miss it. (If this is true even for laypeople who visit only now and again, how much more true must it be for the monks, who have spent countless hours chanting the praises of God and offering His holy sacrifice within its walls, under its capacious dome?)

But as NLM readers know, this was not the only casualty: all the churches of Norcia collapsed in the last earthquake. Of the many churches in town, two others were particularly dear to me and my family: the Co-Cathedral and the Chiesa della Madonna Addolorata. (Norcia used to be its own diocese, but when it was fused with Spoleto to become the Spoleto-Norcia diocese, each town retained a cathedral for the single bishop.)

Pictures have their own eloquence that words cannot match, now that these noble buildings lie in ruins. Suffice it to say that the co-cathedral was beloved to many because of its beautiful fresco of SS. Benedict and Scholastica in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, and its various side-altars that had more beauty than the main sanctuary.

The Cathedral tower, seen from the bell tower of the Basilica
Side altar
Choir loft
Side altar with image of SS. Benedict & Scholastica
A close-up
The same, past the iron grill
The altar of the Crocifisso

The church of Our Lady of Sorrows (Madonna Addolorata) was built in the 13th century and, as is typical throughout Europe, Baroquified at a later period. It later belonged to the Oratorians, who outfitted it for music with multiple balconies. In more recent centuries it has housed a miraculous icon of Our Lady that the Nursini carry around in procession each year on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. My son and I were present for that procession in September 2015. (I’m assuming that the people removed this image right away after the first earthquake in August, but I don’t know.)

The facade of Madonna Addolorata
The inside
(This picture was not taken by us. The lighting is better than we had.)
The choir loft
The main altar with the venerated image
My children and some friends singing medieval music in the church last July


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