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The History of Saint Benedict


Saint Benedict (the Father of Western Monasticism) was born in Nurcia, statue.jpgItaly (present-day Norcia, Italy) in the year 480 to a noble Italian family.  Benedict's family sent him to Rome to study Roman and Greek classics.  Benedict detested the city and its people and left after a short stay. In the year 500, he went to live in an isolated cave near the city of Subiaco, about fifty miles from Rome. He met a holy monk named Romanus, who clothed and fed St. Benedict while he remained a hermit for three years.  Benedict's holy influence became famous among a group of monks, and he was asked to become an abbot, which he accepted. Ultimately unhappy with his guidance, one of the monks slipped poison into his drink; however, when Saint Benedict made the sign of the cross on the goblet, it shattered the goblet into pieces.  Eventually, Benedict returned to Subiaco and his spirituality helped Subiaco become a center of learning and spirituality.  He left his final footprint in the city by building twelve monasteries.

 

 

 

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Around the year 525, St. Benedict moved south to a mountain crest in Monte Cassino, where he destroyed a pagan temple, establshed Christianity, and founded the monastery that was to be the birthplace of Western monasticism. Disciples continued to flock to Monte Cassino to be a part of Saint Benedict's holy influence.  While organizing the monastery, St. Benedict also wrote his famous Rule, which emphasized prayer, study, common sense, and community life.  Today, the "Rule of Saint Benedict", is commonly known as one of the most important influences of Christianity in Western Europe.


Saint Scholastica, Saint Benedict's twin sister, also dedicated her life to God at a young age. Scholastica settled in a neighborhood close to Monate Cassino, where she founded a monastery of nuns.  It is believed that Saint Benedict had a part in the direction of Saint Scholastica's monastery and her nuns.  Scholastica would visit her brother once a year, outside of his Monastery.  Saint Scholastica ended up dying shortly before Saint Benedict did. After her death, he had her body laid in a tomb in his monastery, the very same tomb he would be laid in shortly thereafter, in the year 547.

 

Sources: Saint Benedict Prayer Book, 2008, Bart Tesoriero