New Norcia, Western Australia
New Norcia Benedictine Monastery
|Population||101 (2016 census)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Victoria Plains|
A significant diversion of the Great Northern Highway, known as the New Norcia Bypass, now keeps heavy traffic away from the buildings and town. It was officially completed on 9 October 2017.
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 abbey was founded by a Spanish Benedictine, Rudesindus Salvado, on 1 March 1846. After three years spent among the local aboriginal people, Salvado came to the conclusion that they could be converted to Christianity. Salvado was appointed the first abbot of New Norcia on 12 March 1867. Following his death on 29 December 1900, Father Fulgentius Torres OSB was elected abbot in 1902.
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 (retired), 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. In 1972 St Benedict's and St Gertrude's become co-educational with student from both colleges sharing classes in 1974 became known jointly as Salvado College. Each building was 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. The colleges were among those investigated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for historical accusations. There were 65 claims of abuse made about New Norcia, of which 26 were about a single perpetrator. In 2016 a trial in the District Court of Western Australia testimony was presented about the events at St Benedict's college during the 1960s and 1970s. While the allegations were recognised as truthful the identity of the perpetrator was disputed with the jury finding the alleged person not guilty.
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.
St Joseph's orphanage has been converted into the New Norcia Museum and Art gallery, beside displaying many christian relics and historical painting the Gallery hosts an exhibition of finalists for the Mandorla Art Award. Mandorla is the only Australian award solely for Christian Religious artworks based on bible scripture theme. In 1985 the first winner of the prize was Theo Koning with Re-creation based on the theme Creation from the Book of Revelation 15:3. In 1986, twenty six paintings were stolen by two robbers. Several weeks later, all but one of the stolen paintings were returned though all were damaged they 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:
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- 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
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- ABC Dimensions - New Norcia and the European Space Agency
- Press Release about the European Space Agency information about the New Norcia dish
- https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/BuildingRoads/Projects/Regional/greatnorthernhwy/Pages/newnorciabypass.aspx New Norcia Bypass - 1st May 2017
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- Friends of New Norcia
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- New Norcie products
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- "About - The Mandorla Art Award". The Mandorla Art Award. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New Norcia, Western Australia.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for New Norcia.|
- New Norcia, Australia's only monastic town
- Text from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia
- Wikipedia article on the Old Catholic Encyclopedia
- Obituary of Abbot Placid Spearritt (also )
- The Organ Society of Western Australia
- ESA New Norcia deep space tracking station