St. Benedict of Nursia

St Benedict was born around the year  480. He was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia and the twin brother of St. Scholastica. St. Benedict spent his childhood mainly living in Rome with his parents where he attended school until he reached his higher studies. He gave up life with his parents and their wealth, giving his books away and leaving Rome to seek a place where he might manage to attain the Holy purpose he had in mind of only serving God. It is supposed he left his childhood home in about A.D 500 aged about 19-20 years old.  Benedict took with him his nurse as a servant and set off to leave the city. Benedict and his nurse settled in Enfide, close to a church which was dedicated to St. Peter, and in some way was associated with a company of  virtuous men who shared the same sympathies, feelings, and views of life.

Enfide is in the Simbrucini mountains, about forty miles from Rome and two miles from Subiaco. It was there at Enfide where Benedict worked his first miracle by restoring to perfect condition an earthenware wheat-sifter  which his old servant had accidentally broken. This miracle brought Benedict notoriety and this, in turn, drove Benedict to further withdraw from social life.  He fled secretly from his old nurse and sought the more retired district of Subiaco.

Now Benedict chose to live the poor life and for the sake of God decided to take up a life of hardship, weariness and labour.On his way from Enfide, Benedict met a monk, Romanus, whose monastery was on the mountain above the cliff overhanging a cave. Here Benedict and Romanus discussed Benedict’s purpose for coming to Subiaco, and it was there that he received the monk’s habit. For a period of three years on the advice of Romanus, Benedict lived the life of a hermit and unknown to men in a cave above a lake.  Romanus continued to serve Benedict in any way which he was able and visited the monk regularly.  On set days would bring him food.

During these three years of solitude Benedict matured both in mind and in body. He gained much knowledge both of himself and also of his fellow men, and over time became known to and respected by those who knew him., to the extent that when an abbot of a monastery in the neighbourhood died, the community begged Benedict to become the new Abbot of the monastery. Benedict knowing the ways of the monastery life and its discipline, knew that it would be difficult to get all to live in harmony.  He  eventually Benedict consented, and after a period of time of managed things with their entreaty.  Sadly the experiment failed  after certain of the monks tried to poison, because they found his rule to be too strict.

He returned to living in his cave. From this time forward the miracles of Benedict seemed to happen frequently and many people, attracted by his sanctity and character, came to Subiaco to be under his guidance. For these Benedict built twelve monasteries in the valley and allocated to each one a superior and twelve monks. Benedict then built a thirteenth monastery in which he lived with a few chosen whom Benedict believed would profit and be better instructed by his presence. Although living in the thirteenth monastery, Benedict remained the Father and Abbot of all the monasteries  and with the establishment of these monasteries began schools for children; amongst the first to be brought were Maurus and Placid.

The Reminder of Benedict’s life was spent realizing the ideal of monasticism and this is what became known as  the Rule of St. Benedict, which is still followed in many monastery orders even today.

St, Benedict died of a fever on 21 March 543 or 547 in  Monte Cassino, not long after the death of his sister St. Scholastica.  He died on the day on which God had told him he was going to die, and Benedict was buried with his sister.

Benedict was named in 1964 by Pope Paul VI as the patron protector of Europe, and then in 1980 Benedict was declared co-patron of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

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