Father Cassian Folsom re-founded the Benedictine monastery in Norcia “from scratch,” so to speak, in 2000. It was/is a new foundation. The monks in Norcia (birthplace of St Benedict and St Scholastica) left in the early 19th century.

The monks that came in 2000 and those who have joined them are trying to live the Rule of St Benedict completely – prayer seven times a day and once at night. No surprise, this has meant many young men are attracted to the monastery in Italy, even though it is difficult because Italian is ultimately required and you’re in a foreign country. It is an international group with a large American presence.

It is a very joyful community. No dour traditionalists.

Watch this 6-minute video to see the Norcia monks’ life.

The community was initially located in the town of Norcia but had to flee during the earthquakes in 2016. All the churches in town, including the 13th century basilica of St Benedict, were destroyed. The monks made their new home up the mountain from the town at the site of an old abandoned Capuchin monastery. They have beautifully refurbished the church (it used to be filled with pigeons and other animals seeking shelter) and are now continuing to rebuild and expand the ruined building for the new monastery. The church opened in December, 2020.

Re-building is the optimal path rather than building from scratch because of historical regulations from governmental authorities. This is a restoration of the physical infrastructure but also the spiritual infrastructure of the town, the monastic community, and the life of the local church.

To support themselves, the monks at Norcia are brewing and selling beer, Birra Nursia. It is available online and on the West Coast at Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido and on the East Coast at Alphabet City in New York City. The idea is to limit production so the means of support does not overwhelm the spiritual journey of the monks.

The above comes from a late August email from a Cal Catholic reader who is a friend of the monks in Norcia. See the ad for birranursia on the Cal Catholic home page.