“Santo Terremoto”? Earthquake in Assisi, 1997: a Saint or a Devil?

October 8, 2012 4:49 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Basilica Superiore di San Francesco

Saint or devil?
Certainly, nothing “saintly: about an earthquake, though the term “Santo Terremoto” – utttered sadly, soberly here in Italy – refers to the reconstruction work generated by any natural disaster.

Ironically, the restoration work following a tragic natural event can be a lifesaver to many in this moment of economic crisis.

Sponsored by Assisi’s Franciscans, September 24th and 25th were dedicated to two days of meetings on how to prevent, avoid, and limit damage in future seismic activity, dubbing this international encounter “Quarantanniditerremoto” (“Forty Years of Earthquakes, ie, Friuli 1976 to Emilia Romagna, 2012…though not quite 40 years).

Vaults restored over the altar

After all, the day after our earthquake of September 26, 1997 at 11 42 a.m. (6.1 on the Richter scale, causing the collapse of two vaults in the Basilica di San Francisco), the Franciscans of the Sacro Convento, adjacent to the Basilica, had invoked “Fratello Terremoto” (“Brother Earthquake”), asking all to join in full reflection and analysis of past earthquakes in order limit future seismic damage.

On September 26th in Assisi, all thoughts turn to our devastating earthquake in 1997 when four lives were lost in the Basilica di San Francesco as the vault collapsed over the exit – and bouquets of flowers are placed around the plaque here to commemorate them.

We think, too, about the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake and the Emilia Romagna one in spring of 2012….with solidarity.

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