St. Benedict, July 11

St. Benedict, Perugino, Vatican Museum

St. Benedict, brother of St. Scolastica, was born into a wealthy family, in Nursia, Italy, in 480. He went to Rome to be educated at a time when invading barbarian tribes were creating panic in the city. Leaving Rome he withdrew to the village of Enfide in search of another way of learning,

Around the year 500, Benedict went to the remote area of Subiaco, south of Rome, where he came under the influence of a monk named Romanus. Benedict became a monk himself and spent the next three years in a cave, living a life of prayer and solitude.

Others wished to join him and by 525 Benedict had established a number of monastic communities. In 529, along with some followers, he went to Monte Cassino about 80 miles south of Rome and founded the great monastery that became the foundation of western monasticism. 

A wise spiritual leader and worker of miracles, Benedict became a key figure in the rise of European civilization through his rule and monastic foundations. As “schools of the Lord’s service,” his monastic communities were centers of learning and spirituality throughout Europe.

Pope Gregory the Great (540-612), who recognized the monastic ideal himself, promoted monasticism as a way to spread the gospel, which brought about dramatic changes in society in the years the barbarian invasions. Pope Paul VI named Benedict the patron of Europe. 

Benedict died at Monte Cassino March 21, 547.

“Whatever work you begin to do, ask God in earnest prayer to make it perfect…We are going to establish a school for the Lord’s service. Nothing harsh or burdensome will enter there, we hope… as we go forward in faith our hearts will expand, and we will run in the way of God’s commands with unspeakable joy.”  (Rule of St. Benedict) 

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