26-08-2016 -- This Saturday the 27th has been declared a National Day of Mourning in Italy for the victims of the earthquake that struck the Abruzzo, the Marche and Lazio areas in particular. To date, there are 250 confirmed dead and the number is sadly expected to rise. Hundreds more have been injured and thousands displaced.
The faithful town of Amatrice, once the home of 8,000 inhabitants in 1860, when it was a thriving regional center of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, is almost obliterated. After the invasion by the Piedmontese forces in 1860, the town was a center for national resistance and remained loyal to the house of Bourbon during decades of military occupation and martial law. Industries were closed and agrarian production restricted which resulted in the forced decimation of the population by migration. Schools were ordered closed for over a decade to begin a process of "re-education" and many of the male population imprisoned or exiled. It ceased to be a regional center but the loyalty remained. The pre earthquake population hovered at about 2000 people.
On Saturday, all are encouraged to offer an "Hail Mary" for all the victims. Chaplains of the Order in the US Delegation are requested by His Royal Highness and by His Eminence our Grand Prior to remember the victims in their Stational Masses on the National Day of Mourning.