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Priests advised to celebrate Masses outdoors after massive earthquake in Italy

The earthquake, which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, was the most severe in Italy since 1980

Priests in central Italy have been instructed to celebrate Mass outdoors following another devastating earthquake yesterday, which reduced churches including Basilica of St Benedict to rubble.

After the 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Norcia in the early morning on October 30, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve advised priests to not celebrate Mass indoors over the next few days, including November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, which is also a national holiday in Italy.

At the noonday Angelus on the same day, Pope Francis prayed for the “the wounded and the families that have suffered major damage as well as for the personnel involved in rescue efforts and in aiding the victims."

“May the Risen Lord give them strength and Our Lady watch over them," the Pope said.

The Benedictine monks of Norcia assisted in relief efforts as well as helping to guide anxious residents to the town’s main square and lead them in prayer.

“After offering spiritual support to the people in town following this morning’s intense earthquake, the entire monastic community is together again at our mountain monastery which overlooks a now fractured Norcia," the monks said in a message on their blog.

Following the destruction of the basilica built atop the birthplace of their founder, the Benedictine monks said they hoped the image of the destroyed church may “serve to illustrate the power of this earthquake and the urgency we monks feel to seek out those who need the Sacraments on this difficult day for Italy."

While there were no deaths and some 20 reported injuries, it was the strongest quake in Italy since 1980 when a 6.9 earthquake struck the southern region of Campania.

The quake was felt along much of the Italian peninsula including 100 miles away in Rome, forcing city officials to close subways and several churches in order to assess any damage.


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