Steve Bannon has hopes of turning a former Catholic monastery into a training camp for Europe's rightwing.
He was born into an Irish-American family and was raised a Roman Catholic. He attended Benedictine College Preparatory, a private, Catholic, military high school in Richmond, Virginia before moving on to Virginia Tech and then a commission in the US Navy. Steve Bannon remained a relative unknown until he was propelled into the limelight as he resurrected Donald Trump's faltering presidential campaign.
Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August, 2016. His tenure in Trump's White House ended a year later, in August, 2017, when he was shown the door. For most of this year Bannon has been knocking around Europe's various rightwing populist parties. Now he's trying to set up an academy to groom the next generation of rightwing populist leaders out of an old monastery in south of Rome.
...now, only one 83-year-old monk remains. A longtime chef-gardener still lives there, as well, along with several dozen feral cats. The other resident at Trisulti is the newcomer: a 43-year-old Briton who is one of Stephen K. Bannon’s closest associates in Europe and who hopes to transform the monastery into a “gladiator school for culture warriors.”
One recent morning, Benjamin Harnwell, the Bannon acolyte, grabbed his ring of keys and moved from one building to the next, through hidden passageways and into frescoed rooms, where he said the next mission at this site was about to take form.From The Times:
Soon, he said, the monastery would be filled with students who wanted to master the tools of populist politics. The halls with centuries-old oil paintings would serve as classrooms where students could learn “the facts” — the worldview espoused by Bannon, who, since being booted from the White House and Breitbart News, has turned to fomenting right-wing populism in Europe and beyond.
Steve Bannon thinks big, really big. So when he decided that he wanted to revive Europe’s Christian roots it was no surprise that he set up his base of operations in an 800-year-old monastery in the mountains of central Italy.
The former Trump strategist has already launched the so-called Movement to unify Europe’s populist parties, but influencing the politics of the Continent is not enough — he is now determined to save its soul.
Trisulti monastery, south of Rome, was picked as the place to do it — a 100-room complex founded in 1204 near an alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary, where professors selected by Mr Bannon will teach conservative Catholic values to as many as 300 students, starting next year.But Bannon's plans to open a populist "gladiator school" are being met by protests.
Steve Bannon’s plan to teach Catholic values at a remote 800-year-old monastery in Italy has been criticised by protesters who claim he is dragging Europe back to the Middle Ages.
About 300 people marched near the Trisulti monastery, south of Rome, at the weekend carrying a banner stating “Stop Bannon — Free Europe”. Mr Bannon, President Trump’s former strategist, plans to open a “gladiator school” in the 100-room complex as part of his drive to revitalise Europe’s Christian roots.
In September it was reported that Bannon was plotting with rightwingers in the church hierarchy to force Pope Francis to resign.