The images from L'Aquila are heartbreaking. During Holy Week, these devastated people are living the passion of Jesus Christ. My thoughts and prayers are with them. The images tell of shock, pain, disbelief and grieving. One image of a man clutching a picture of Jesus, as he's wrapped in a blanket, shows a person who has lost everything but still holds on to Jesus. Tens of thousands of people are homeless. The earthquake hit 26 towns and cities around L'Aquila and shook the tombs of saints buried there. Many Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance landmarks and churches were destroyed or damaged, including the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio. Sister Gemma Antonucci, abbess of the Poor Clare nuns of the convent of Santa Chiara of Paganica, died in the earthquake.
Pope Benedict prayed for the victims and sent a condolence message to the archbishop of L'Aquila.
There will be time later to discuss why these buildings in a known earthquake area were not better fortified to withstand an earthquake. You always wonder why more isn't done to build structures which can withstand disasters such as this. Life is so precious, the loss and suffering these people are experiencing is beyond comprehension.
The Italian American Museum in Manhattan is accepting donations for the earthquake victims. Thousands are homeless. Checks can be mailed to the museum at 155 Mulberry St. NY,NY 10013. Checks can be made out to IAM Earthquake Relief Fund-2009. I am sure there will also be collections in our Churches to help this devastated area. As we contemplate the suffering of Jesus during this Holy Week, we also see the images of people experiencing the suffering of the Cross in our day, not only in Italy but in other places in the world.