New Norcia, Western Australia
New Norcia Benedictine Monastery
|LGA(s)||Shire of Victoria Plains|
- 1 Establishment
- 2 Abbey
- 3 Colleges
- 4 Grounds and heritage trail
- 5 See also
- 6 Books about New Norcia
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Within a year the mission was moved to where the town is today, and on 1 March 1847 the foundation stone of the monastery was laid.
The town of New Norcia has buildings in a Spanish style of architecture, along with some other historical sites. Among these are the two old boarding schools, St Ildephonsus' and St Gertrude's (both now used for accommodation and various social functions), the Abbey Church (containing the tomb of Rosendo Salvado), an old mill, a wine press, a hotel and the monastery itself.
Tours of the town are operated daily by the Friends of New Norcia, who also organise the accommodation in the various buildings including the monastery retreat.
The Benedictine monks continue to occupy the monastery and are involved with most of the enterprises in the town. The last Spanish Benedictine monk of New Norcia died on 18 January 2010, aged 99. He continued to prepare the bread for the monks and olive oil almost upon his death..
Today New Norcia is increasingly well respected in Australian culinary circles for its quality bakery (built in 1886) offering breads, nutcake and biscotti. Also maintaining olive oil production and locally made wines; port and ale can be purchased at the community or from special outlets.
New Norcia Hotel
The Benedictine abbey was founded on 1 March 1846 by a Spanish Benedictine, Rudesindus Salvado, for the Christianising of Australian Aborigines. It is situated 132 kilometres from Perth, the state capital; its territory was bounded on the south and east by the then Diocese of Perth, and on the north by the Diocese of Geraldton.
This mission at first had no territory. Its founder lived in the wilderness, leading the same nomadic life as the indigenous people whom he had come to convert. His food was of the most variable character, consisting of wild roots dug out of the earth by the spears of his neophytes, with lizards, goannas, even grubs in times of distress, or, when fortunate in the chase, with the native kangaroo.
After three years of hardships amongst the local people, Salvado came to the conclusion that they could be converted to Christianity. Assisted by some friends, he started for Rome in 1849 to procure auxiliaries and money to assist him in his work. Whilst in Rome, he was appointed Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria (Australia) in Northern Australia, being consecrated on 15 August 1849. Before he left Rome, all of the people of Port Victoria had abandoned the diocese for the goldfields. Salvado then implored the pope to permit him to return to Australia. He set out for Spain and obtained there monetary assistance and over forty young volunteers. All these afterwards became Benedictines. They landed in Australia in charge of their bishop on 15 August 1852.
Bishop Salvado, with his band of willing workers, then commenced operations. They cleared land for the plough and introduced the natives to habits of industry. They built a large monastery, schools and orphanages for the young, cottages for the married and flour-mills to grind their wheat. An important village soon sprang up, in which many natives were fed, clothed and converted to Christianity.
On 12 March 1867, Pius IX made New Norcia an abbey nullius and a prefecture Apostolic with jurisdiction over a territory of 16 square miles, the extent of Bishop Salvado's jurisdiction until his death in Rome on 29 December 1900 in the eighty-seventh year of his age and the fifty-first of his episcopate.
Father Fulgentius Torres OSB was elected Abbot of New Norcia in succession to Bishop Salvado on 2 October 1902. The new abbot found it necessary to frame a new policy for his mission. Rapid changes were setting in; agricultural settlers were taking up the land, driving out the sheep and cattle lords, and absorbing the labour of the natives. The mission had now to provide for the spiritual wants of the white population and Abbot Torres boldly faced the situation by entering upon a large scheme of improvements in and around the monastery. With the approbation of the Holy See, he had the boundaries of the abbey extended to embrace the country between 30º and 31º 20' S. latitude and between the sea and 120º E. longitude – a territory of over 30,000 sq. miles (nearly as large as Ireland or the State of Maine). Torres brought out many priests and young ecclesiastics for the monastery and parochial work, and built churches in the more settled districts of his new territory. Since Torres became superior in 1901, the number of churches has increased from one to ten. To foster higher education, Torres erected a convent and girls' college and a similar institution for boys. He completed a large girls' orphanage. All these works were accomplished at the expense of the Benedictine community. Abbot Torres did confine his energies solely to New Norcia. He founded the "Drysdale River Aborigines Mission", 2000 miles away, in the extreme north-west of Australia, an unexplored land inhabited only by local Aborigines. This mission was opened on 12 July 1908 with a party of 15 in charge of two priests.
Torres was consecrated bishop in Rome on 22 May 1910. On the fourth of the same month, by a Decree of the Congregation Propaganda Fide, he was appointed administrator Apostolic of Kimberley, and had the "Drysdale Mission" erected into an abbey nullius. He has now under his jurisdiction a territory of 174,000 square miles—an area nearly as large as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and Maine. The position in 1910 of the mission was: churches, 10; priests, 17 (secular, 7); monastic students, 9; other religious, 33; nuns, 18; high school, 1; primary schools, 4; charitable institutions, 2; children attending Catholic schools, 350; Catholic population, 3000.
There are 11 monks living in the monastery, ranging in age from 40 to 95. They pray together seven times a day.
- Rosendo Salvado, 12 March 1867 – 29 December 1900, died as abbot, aged 86 years
- Fulgentius Torres, 1902 – 6 October 1914, died as abbot, aged 53 years
- Anselm Catalan, 1915–1951 (resigned), died 29 July 1959, aged 80 years
- Gregory Gomez, 1951–1971 (resigned), died 31 May 1995, aged 91 years
- Bernard Rooney, 31 March 1974 – 15 June 1980 (resigned)
- Placid Spearritt, 29 January 1997 – 4 October 2008, died as abbot, aged 75 years
- John Herbert, 23 January 2009 to present
From 1983 until 1997, the Territorial Abbey had been suppressed into the Archdiocese of Perth and Spearritt worked as an administrator.
Abbey buildings and pipe organs
The abbey buildings are on the eastern side of the current highway alignment through the town.
There are two pipe organs located within the abbey buildings. In the Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity is a large German organ, built in 1922 by Albert Möser of Munich, with 34 speaking stops. The organ was designed in consultation with the abbey organist, Dom Stephen Moreno.
The second pipe organ, of 11 speaking stops and much more modern in style, is located in the oratory chapel. This organ was built in 1983 by Bellsham Pipe Organs.
There have been a range of colleges situated in the town, associated with the Monastery, they are situated on the west side of the current main road alignment which passes through the town.
St Gertrude's was completed in 1908.
From 1965 onwards, it was run by the Benedictines as St Benedict's College. In 1972, St Benedict's and St Gertrude's became co-educational, with the boys and girls sharing most of their lessons.
Salvado College – New Norcia Catholic College
In 1974, the two colleges became known jointly as Salvado College, but were still referred to individually as St Benedict's and St Gertrude's. In 1986, Salvado College became New Norcia Catholic College, which closed at the end of 1991.
There were also two aboriginal orphanages ; St Mary's (for boys) and St Joseph's (for girls), which closed in the early 1970s. The two buildings still exist. St Mary's is next to St Ildephonsus', and St Joseph's is next to St Gertrude's.
Child sexual abuse
The colleges had the highest incidence of accusations of child sexual abuse of any Catholic institution in Australia. Of the 53 priests who were at New Norcia between 1950 and 2010, the proportion accused of sexually abusing children was 21.5 per cent. That compares with 7 per cent nationally. The figures were contained in a report released by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in February 2017.
During the 1960s, 29 per cent of the clergy at New Norcia had allegedly molested or abused children at some point during their career.
|Decade/s||% clergy accused||Note|
|1950s||17.6 per cent|
|1960s||15.9 per cent|
|1970s||3.6 per cent|
|1980s onwards||0 per cent||No allegations|
In 2016, a trial in the District Court of Western Australia was told about perverted behaviour by monks at St Benedict's college during the 1960s and 1970s. Brother Dominic "Goofy" Benedict allegedly took indecent photographs of boys and measured one student's penis with a tape measure. Bishop Max Davis, who was acquitted by a jury, said Brother Dom would hit boys or push them up against brick walls.
St Joseph's now houses the Museum and Art Gallery, which contains works by Australian and overseas artists, and displays describing the history of the area. In 1986, twenty six paintings were stolen by two robbers. Several weeks later, all but one of the stolen paintings were returned. They were badly damaged, but were eventually repaired.
Grounds and heritage trail
With decreasing numbers of active colleges, and changes in the organisation of the town, some buildings and sites have been restored and incorporated into a heritage trail within the town. The following buildings are among the heritage buildings situated on the site of the Monastery, which is registered on the Register of the National Estate and classified by the National Trust of Australia WA:
Books about New Norcia
- Beckett, T (1966), New Norcia : its history and development, 1846-1966, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Monachus; Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Western Australia (1946), New Norcia : historical guide to all its institutions, Benedictine Abbey, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Flood, James Rev (1908), New Norcia : the remarkable Aborigines institution of the Australian Commonwealth situated in the state of Western Australia ; a monument of Benedictine courage, patience and charity, Burns & Oates, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Salvado, Rosendo; Stormon, Edward James, 1912-; New Norcia Benedictine Mission; Salvado, Rosendo; Storman, Edward James (1977), The Salvado memoirs : historical memoirs of Australia and particularly of the Benedictine mission of New Norcia and of the habits and customs of the Australian natives, University of Western Australia Press, ISBN 978-0-85564-114-6
- Lennon, Stephen; Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Western Australia (1991), The Story of New Norcia : the Western Australian Benedictine mission (7th ed.), Benedictine Community of New Norcia, ISBN 978-0-646-06140-5
- Hutchison, D. E. (David Eric), 1927-; Hutchison, David (1995), A town like no other : the living tradition of New Norcia, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, ISBN 978-1-86368-132-2
- Smith, John H., (compiler.); Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Western Australia (issuing body.) (2014), Rosendo Salvado, commemorating 200 years : 1814-2014, New Norcia, Western Australia Benedictine Community of New Norcia, retrieved 27 November 2014
- ABC Dimensions - New Norcia and the European Space Agency
- Press Release about the European Space Agency information about the New Norcia dish
- Smith, John H; Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Western Australia (2008), The story of New Norcia : the Western Australian Benedictine mission (8th ed.), Benedictine Community of New Norcia, ISBN 978-0-646-49721-1
- Monachus; Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Western Australia (1946), New Norcia : historical guide to all its institutions, Benedictine Abbey, retrieved 6 June 2012
- Friends of New Norcia
- New Norcia bakery
- New Norcie products
- "NEW NORCIA.". The Sunday Times. Perth. 20 November 1927. p. 20. Retrieved 27 November 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- Strano, Angelo; Coleman, Kim (1969), The New Norcia Hotel, s.n, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Randall, Warwick (1987), "Great pubs. -The hotel at New Norcia, Western Australia, and the township-", This Australia, 6 (4): 40, retrieved 27 November 2014
- New Norcia Cemetery
- "OBITUARY.". Kalgoorlie Miner. WA. 6 October 1914. p. 6. Retrieved 28 November 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "LORD ABBOT OF NEW NORCIA TO RETIRE.". The Catholic Weekly. Sydney. 28 June 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 28 November 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "NEW LORD ABBOT ELECTED.". The Catholic Weekly. Sydney. 9 August 1951. p. 5. Retrieved 28 November 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- Obituary of Abbot Placid Spearritt
- The Organ Society of Western Australia
- The Organ Society of Western Australia
- In sources and descriptions of the 1950s the colleges are referred to as 'mission colleges and orphanages'
- Byrne, Francis, 1949-; New Norcia Catholic College (1988), 80th anniversary, St. Gertrude's College, New Norcia, 1908-1988, New Norcia Catholic College, retrieved 27 November 2014
- St. Ildephonsus' College (1960), St. Ildephonsus' College, New Norcia, Western Australia : prospectus, St. Ildephonsus' College, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Braniff, Valerian (2009), St. Ildephonsus' College, New Norcia 1913-1964 : an educational, religious and social history ([Rev. ed.] ed.), Schools of Education and Social Enquiry, Murdoch University, retrieved 27 November 2014
- "Native Orphanage for boys.". The Daily News. Perth. 22 July 1924. p. 6. Retrieved 27 November 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "New Norcia Benedictine community among worst child sex abuse perpetrators". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Wearne, Phoebe (6 February 2017). "Catholic Church officials admit widespread child sex abuse to Royal Commission". PerthNow. Seven West Media/Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Tillett, Andrew (7 February 2017). "WA monks some of the worst abusers". The West Australian. Perth: Seven West Media. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Clarke, Tim (17 February 2017). "WA at the evil heart of child abuse". The West Australian. Seven West Media. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- "Analysis of claims of child sexual abuse made with respect to Catholic Church institutions in Australia". Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Commonwealth of Australia. February 2017. pp. 133–135. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- Clarke, Tim (21 February 2016). "The hidden shame of St Benedict's". The West Australian. Perth: Seven West Media. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Livings, Simon (1987), "The New Norcia Heritage Trail. -in Western Australia-", Heritage (Australian Heritage Society), 6 (1): 20–21, ISSN 0155-2716
- Western Australia. Heritage Trails Secretariat (1986), New Norcia Heritage Trail : the development of the Benedictine settlement at New Norcia, Western Australia, Heritage Trails Secretariat, Western Australian Heritage Committee, retrieved 27 November 2014
- Heritage Trails Network (W.A.); Heritage Council of Western Australia (1999), Heritage Trail, New Norcia : the development of the Benedictine settlement at New Norcia, Western Australia, Heritage Council of Western Australia, retrieved 27 November 2014
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