About St. Benedict
480 — 547
Feast Days March 21 (Traditional) July 11 (New)
Patron Saint of Europe, students, fields, farmers, and protection against being poisoned and infectious diseases.
Benedict and his twin sister Scholastica (also a Saint) were born into a noble, Christian family in Nursia (modern day Norcia), Italy, in the 5th century AD. Benedict went to Rome for his studies, according to his father's wishes, as it was common during the time for children of noble or privileged families. Once he had reached his higher studies, Benedict grew weary of life in Rome. He found his companions' lives dissolute and immoral and he himself had been struck by love for a woman. He found his teachers unchristian and corrupt. All of these things led Benedict to abandon his studies in Rome to pursue a spiritual life.
He left Rome and spent time living as a hermit, in spiritual isolation, living in a cave. Upon the death of the abbot of a nearby monastery, Benedict, who was known by now for his sanctity, was asked to become their new abbot. The unworthy monks attempted to poison him and Benedict miraculously escaped harm and returned to his cave. The period that followed was full of growth.
Benedict built 12 monasteries in Subiaco and resided in the 13th as abbot. But his sacred path didn't end there, and along with his most devoted disciples Benedict left Subiaco for Cassino. It was there on the ancient summit where Benedict and his most faithful monks built the first abbey of Montecassino, among the ruins of an ancient pagan acropolis. Here he wrote the supremely influential and important "Rule" (known as the Rule of St. Benedict) and served as the young monastery's first abbot until his death.
The "Rule" is a simple set of guidelines for how the life of a monk should be lived and it has become one of the most influential works in all of Western Christendom.
Benedict devoted himself to evangelizing the local population who practiced pagan worship. Shortly before he died, Benedict saw the soul of his sister St. Scholastica rising to heaven in the form of a dove. This vision happened a few days after their last talk together at the foot of Montecassino. In a vision, Benedict saw the soul of Bishop Germanus of Capua taken by angels in a fire globe. These visions, for Pope Saint Gregory the Great, showed a close union between Benedict and God, a union so intense that the Saint was given the share of an even more magnificent vision, the whole of creation as gathered in a sunbeam.
In the end, a life so noble was justifiably followed by a much-glorified death. Benedict died on March 21, 547 AD. He foresaw his coming death, informing his close and faraway disciples that the end was near. Six days before dying, he had the grave which he was to share with his deceased sister, opened. Then, completely exhausted, he asked to be taken into his oratory where, after taking his last Holy Communion, he died supported by his monks.