St. Benedict was born in Nursia, Italy, in 480 A.D. Educated at Rome, Benedict was repulsed by the city’s vice and degeneration, and fled to Subiaco. There he met Romanus, a monk who brought him to a secret mountain cave, where he lived as a hermit for three years. Disciples gathered around Benedict, attracted by his holiness and miraculous gifts. Some monks asked Benedict to lead them, but grew angry at his strict rule, and gave him poisoned wine. Benedict blessed the cup, which shattered before their eyes, and he returned to Subiaco.
Disciples again flocked to Benedict as his reputation for holiness, wisdom, and miracles spread across the countryside. Benedict organized the monks into a single monastic community and wrote his famous Rule, prescribing common sense, moderate asceticism, prayer, study, work, and community life under one superior; it was to affect spiritual and monastic life in the West for centuries to come, as monks kept alive the light of faith and learning through the Dark Ages.
Benedict then settled at Monte Cassino, a mountain top overlooking the beautiful southern Italian farmland. He destroyed a pagan temple, brought the inhabitants back to Christianity, and around AD 530 founded the monastery that was to be the birthplace of Western monasticism.
Benedict could read consciences, prophesy, and rebuff the attacks of the devil. His holiness and charisms remind us that God continues to send holy ones in our midst to help us all follow His universal call to union with Himself in true joy, peace, and service. Benedict died at Monte Cassino in 547 and was buried with his twin sister, Saint Scholastica. In 1964, Pope Paul IV named St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism, as Patron Protector of Europe.
Saint Benedict, pray for us!