St Benedict, Abbott – 11 July
Born to the Roman nobility. Twin brother of Saint Scholastica. Studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed by the lack of discipline and the lackadasical attitude of his fellow students. Fled to the mountains near Subiaco, Italy, living as a hermit in a cave for three years; reported to have been fed by a raven. Friend of Saint Romanus of Subiaco who lived as a nearby hermit; spiritual teacher of Saint Placid. Benedict’s virtues caused an abbey to request him to lead them. Founded the monastery at Monte Cassino, where he wrote the Rule of his order. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried by poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He returned to his cave, but continued to attract followers, and eventually established twelve monasteries. Had the ability to read consciences, the gift of prophesy, and could forestall attacks of the devil. Destroyed paganstatues and altars, drove demons from groves sacred to pagans. At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule. A summation of the Rule: “Pray and work.”
St Benedict was born c.480, Narsia, Italy and died on 21 March 547 of a fever while in prayer at Monte Cassino, Italy. He is buried beneath the high altar there in the same tomb as Saint Scholastica.
Prayer ought to be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by the inspiration of Divine grace. – Saint Benedict
Girded with a faith, and the performance of good works, let us follow in Christ’s path by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him “who has called us into his kingdom.” If we wish to attain a dwelling place in his kingdom, we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds. Just as there exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervour which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life. – from the Rule of Saint Benedict