St. Benedict

St. Benedict, the Father of Western monasticism and brother of St. Scholastica was born in Nursia, Italy in the year 480 and educated in Rome. He was repelled by the vices of the city and in about the year 500, fled to Enfide, thirty miles away. He decided to live the life of a hermit and settled at the mountainous Subiaco, where he lived in a cave for three years, and in about 525, settled at Monte Cassino. He destroyed a pagan temple to Apollo on its crest, brought the people of the neighboring area back to Christianity, and in about 530 began to build the monastery that was to be the birthplace of Western monasticism. Disciples flocked to him as his reputation for holiness, wisdom, and miracles spread far and wide. He organized the monks into a single monastic community and wrote his famous Rule prescribing common sense, a life of moderate asceticism, prayer, study, and work, and community life under one superior. It stressed obedience, stability, zeal, and had the Divine Office as the center of monastic life; it was to affect spiritual and monastic life in the West for centuries to come.  He died at Monte Cassino on March 21st in 547 and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964. His feast day is July 11

The Rule of St. Benedict

"Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.  This is advice from a  father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.  The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience.  This message of mine is for you, then, if  you are ready give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord."

St. Scholastica

St. Scholastica, twin sister of St. Benedict, consecrated her life to God from her earliest youth. After her brother went to Monte Cassino, where he established his famous monastery, she took up her abode in the neighborhood at Plombariola, where she founded and governed a monastery of nuns, about five miles from that of St. Benedict, who, it appears, also directed his sister and her nuns. She visited her brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went in company with some of his brethren to meet her at a house some distance away.  These visits were spent in conferring together on spiritual matters.

On one occasion they had passed the time as usual in prayer and pious conversation and in the evening they sat down to take their reflection. St. Scholastica begged her brother to remain until the next day. St. Benedict refused to spend the night outside his monastery.  She had recourse to prayer and a furious thunderstorm burst so that neither St. Benedict nor any of his companions could return home. They spent the night in spiritual conferences. The next morning they parted to meet no more on earth. Three days later St. Scholastica died, and her holy brother beheld her soul in a vision as it ascended into heaven. He sent his brethren to bring her body to his monastery and laid it in the tomb he had prepared for himself. She died about the year 543, and St. Benedict followed her soon after. Her feast day is February 10th.