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New Norcia, Abbey of


A Benedictine abbey nullius (Novae Nursiae ), in Western Australia, about 80 miles north of Perth, of which it is a suffragan. It was founded (1846) by a Spanish monk, Rosendo Salvado, for the evangelization of Australian aborigines. After living three years among these primitive nomads, Dom Salvado (18141900) visited Europe (1849) in search of missionaries. While in Rome he was appointed bishop of Port Victoria (now Darwin). Before he could return, his entire flock abandoned the region for southern goldfields, whereupon the pope permitted him to return to New Norcia. Bishop Salvado and his young Spanish community built a monastery, and cleared the land for agriculture. They established schools, built cottages for married natives, and introduced them to farming and handicrafts. In March 1867 Pius IX made the monastery an abbey nullius and a prefecture apostolic. On a visit to Rome (1900), Bishop Salvado arranged for its affiliation with the Spanish province of the Subiaco Congregation of benedictines. His successor, Dom Fulgentius Torres (abbot 190214), found a changing social situation. With the coming of European settlers and a decline in the number of natives, the abbey had to provide for the spiritual needs of a white, rather than a nonwhite, population. In the north, however, Abbot Torres established a new mission to aborigines in 1908 on the Drysdale River.

Bibliography: j. t. mcmahon, The Salvado Story (Perth 1956). Annuario Pontificio 728 (1964).

[j. g. murtagh]

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