The community looked after the now destroyed Basilica of St Benedict

Eighteen years after founding a new Benedictine community in Italy, US Fr Cassian Folsom has stepped down as prior of the Benedictine monastic community in Norcia, the hometown of St Benedict.

“The earthquakes of the past several months have presented us with incredible challenges, which require vigorous, creative leadership,” the 61-year-old Fr Folsom said. “While I am in good health at the moment, I do not have the strength or energy necessary to meet these challenges.”

Fr Folsom, a native of Massachusetts, submitted his resignation to the abbot primate of the Benedictine order, Abbot Gregory Polan, who appointed US Fr Benedict Nivakoff, 37, as prior. Fr Nivakoff had been novice master of the community and had served as subprior at various times since 2006.

The Monks of Norcia have 16 members and were entrusted with the care of the Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia in 2000. The basilica was destroyed in an earthquake October 30.

Since 2012 the monks also have been brewing beer, Birra Nursia, in Norcia.