Published: 15 December 2016
A further report from Luciano De Michieli OSA (Provincial) on 14 December 2016 (as translated from Italian, and edited). The photos were also kindly provided by him.
In Tolentino you can see progress with the repairs every day. A marquee is now our “basilica” for Masses. Lauds, Vespers. Catechesis and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Next to where the Christmas crib is built annually now we have the casket of St Nicholas taken from the crypt, so he can still be present to those who come and pray for his intercession.
We hope to reopen the Basilica in time for Easter 2017. The small number of friars who have remained in Tolentino to minister to the people and assist the reconstruction. They use an underground medieval set of rooms as an office, recreation area, refectory and dormitory.
As to the church, the facade (see below) has cracks and will hopefully be fully repaired before Easter 2017.
It has been a problem that the more inspections that have been done the more building faults and weaknesses have been discovered. But now repair work has begun. Because damage to the dome (exterior) and cupola (interior) of the basilica has been considerable, scaffolding has been erected both exteriorly and internally. The main level of the basilica is out of bounds as a construction zone but we can use the crypt (lower basilica) containing the remains of St Rita for Sunday Mass and for a limited number of pilgrim groups.
On 14 December 2016 all the nuns returned to their Cascia monastery today (after being evacuated six weeks earlier), and a Mass of Thanksgiving took place on the following day.
The Hotel of the Rose (pilgrims’ hotel) was damaged. Only one side of the hotel will be completely repaired for use in the busy months after Easter, and the second half will be repaired subsequently.