Hungarian Government Helps Save Church Badly Damaged in Italian Earthquake

Donates large sum to help rebuild the church after its prior appealed to Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán.

Hungary's Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg-Lotheringen, and the mayor of Tolentino, Giuseppe Pezzanesi.
Hungary's Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg-Lotheringen, and the mayor of Tolentino, Giuseppe Pezzanesi. (photo: Hungarian embassy to the Holy See)

The Hungarian government has come to the rescue of a church damaged by the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy Oct. 30. 

The country has given “several hundreds of thousands of euros” to the church of the Sacred Heart in Tolentino after its prior, Andrea Carradori, wrote to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán appealing for aid.

In view of the critical situation of the sacred building, Carradori, a member of the lay Venerable Brotherhood of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, asked the country’s leader for “personal help for the reconstruction of the church”, also considering what Orbán has been doing in Hungary “to safeguard Christian roots.”

Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen, travelled to Tolentino Dec. 14 to personally find out how the earthquake had affected the communities. 

On receiving Carradori’s letter, Orbán presented the request to his ministerial colleagues who decided Dec. 19 to donate “a considerable sum” for the church’s restoration.

Orbán then sent a handwritten letter to Carradori, saying he wished to express the solidarity of the Hungarians "toward our fellow Italian Christians hit by natural disasters." He added that Europe’s future can only be helped by “rediscovering Christian values, which still represent the most important force of communion for a city and a whole country.”

In September, the Hungarian government became the first in the world to dedicate a government department to helping persecuted Christians and allocated  3 million euros ($3.35m) to assist Christians facing violence and oppression around the world.

Ambassador Habsburg-Lotheringen, a relative of Blessed Karl von Habsburg, was surprised and moved to discover during his visit a relic of Blessed Karl who served as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary from 1887 to 1922.

The Oct. 30 quake destroyed the basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia. The Benedictine monks, who have transferred to temporary accommodation on the outskirts of the town, have been greatly impressed by the help they have been given.

In spite of everything and continued concerns, not least the cold weather, “there is also a sense of solidarity,” prior Father Benedict Nivakoff told Vatican Radio Dec. 16. “The world is coming to Norcia, and in our parts, helping us out, in a way never experienced, never thought of and never seen before.”

“These gestures bring us a great sense of closeness on the part of so many people, from all over the world: Australia, China, Taiwan, America, Canada,” Father Nivakoff said. “They come from all parts [of the world] to bring us a gift: they are a bit like the Magi who came to find Christ.”