Monastery of San Benedetto, a group of Italy-based monks who (ora et labor) is their way work and prayer are beginning to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Birra Nursia comes to the U.S soon!
According to CNA, Sub-prior of the Monastery of Saint Benedict at Norcia, said: “We never expected people to appreciate it and enjoy it as much as they have."
“A brewer has to have always a little bit of hope. It’s not just for his enjoyment, but to share with others. God does things that we don’t always expect with what we make."
The name for the beer is “Birra Nursia", which uses the Latin name for the city of Norcia. The monastery also brews and markets a Belgian Blond Ale and a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.
The monks seem to have a very busy schedule. They pray seven times a day, starting at 3:30 a.m. They know when to eat, when to sleep and when, specifically, to say “Alleluia." Manual labor is actually a part of the Rule of St. Benedict that stresses the importance of ‘ora et labora’—‘pray and work’—and where ‘idleness is the enemy of the soul, and brewing is only one part of their manual labor.
The Benedictine Monks of Norcia are members of the Order of St. Benedict located in Nursia, Italy. The current monastery is physically located above the 5th century ruins of the house of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica, These original monks transferred from Rome to Norcia on December 2, 2000, in the great Jubilee Year, becoming The Benedictine Monks of Norcia. Today the Monks of Norcia care for the spiritual, pastoral, and temporal needs of approximately 50,000 pilgrims from around the world who annually visit the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica.
Above the entrance to the monks’ brewery is a fresco of the Virgin Mary upon grains of barley.
Fr. Benedict citing Jesus’ transformation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana at the urging of his mother Mary, he turned water into wine.
“Doing something so unnecessary, changing water into wine. And not just any wine, but the best wine," he said. “That’s what the steward said: the best for last."
For these monks, brewing beer is like making wine.
“It is a drink which isn’t really necessary, but it brings a bit of joy to the hearts of those who drink it," the monk said. “We take as our motto a line from Psalm 106: ‘ut laetificat cor,’ that the heart might be gladdened."
“When we take something that has those qualities of good ingredients, made in a prayerful way, and drink with friends and family, it’s a chance to step back from the ordinary cares of the day, all the anxieties, and spend a little time thinking about less urgent things, and more leisurely, things."
“In general, St. Benedict asked the monks to do everything that they do for God," Fr. Benedict said. “Whether that’s cleaning the house, replacing the roof or producing beer. He says everything should be treated like the sacred vessels of the altar."
“When we make something we try to make it of the highest quality possible," he said. “Something that is not only high quality and pleasurable to the taste, but also made well. Prayed over. For us, all of our work is part of our prayer."
St. Benedict asked his monks to live by their own labor, to work and to sell the things they make.
On. Jan. 21, for the first time, the monks began accepting Birra Nursia pre-orders from the U.S. for delivery in March.
All the monks are part of the brewery’s work.
“We started the brewery thinking that no one would be interested," Fr. Benedict said. “Italy’s a wine culture. We didn’t expect anybody to like our beer, let alone buy us out."
Fr. Cassian writes that the monks chose to name the beer after the city for two reasons:
“First, it is where St. Benedict himself was born and to whom we owe our gratitude and veneration as the founder. Secondly, it is the city of Norcia which opened its arms widely to us in the year 2000 when the monastery was given to us. The beer is made by monks, yes; but it is a thanks to the townspeople and so many of you that we have been able to sustain ourselves in these initial pioneer years. We hope to give back to you with our beer, what we have so generously received from your open hands. May God continue to bless you and your families.”
Fr. Benedict added that the beers are a way for all people to help the spiritual life of St. Benedict at his birthplace.
Because the monks spend most of their day in prayer and working around the monastery, Birra Nursia will only be able to fulfill a limited number of orders per month on a first come, first serve basis.
The brewery’s website is birranursia.com.