|St Benedict and St Scholastica|
Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict
11th July is the liturgical feast of St Benedict of Nursia. Listen/read more about Benedict here, here, and here.
While Glenstal isn't technically in the diocese of Limerick (but rather Cashel & Emily), it does sit in county Limerick and the community there has been featured a couple of times on the programme. On this special day for Benedictines you can have a look at our previous posts on Glenstal HERE.
Benedict was born in the year 480, in the province of Nursia, Italy. The Roman Empire had come to an end only four years before, in 476, and thus the young Benedict grew up in a country where the decay of the old Roman civilisation was in evidence everywhere. His parents were Christian and sent him to study law in Rome when he was about sixteen years of age. However, the atmosphere of the great city shocked and depressed him. He decided to leave Rome and for a short time joined a small group of like-minded young men at a place called Enfide. His companions called themselves monks, but they followed no rule, each apparently ordering his life as he wished. Not satisfied with this situation, Benedict, though still under twenty, resolved to lead the more strict life of a hermit. According to the testimony of his first biographer, Pope St Gregory the Great, Benedict found a narrow cave at a place called Subiaco, where he spent three years in solitude and prayer.
After this period of preparation, Benedict gathered a number of disciples around him and organised them into a community. Already, at this stage, he was determined to reform the accepted way of monastic life in Italy. Above all, he was anxious to introduce regular observance and some form of community life. However, this first experiment met with such opposition that some of the monks tried to poison him. Undaunted, Benedict returned to his cave at Subiaco, and after some years succeeded in attracting to the place a number of young men who were prepared to follow his lead. He built twelve cells or small monasteries in the valley of the Anio, and drew up a Rule or way of life for the monks. Subiaco is thus the cradle of Benedictine monasticism.
Up to St Benedict’s time there was no such thing as Western monasticism. Whatever monasteries existed were adaptations, or imitations, of the way of life followed by the monks of the East. St. Benedict can be said to have saved the monastic institution from decline by introducing a number of essential elements.
St Benedict is co-patron of Europe along with Ss Cyril, Methodius, Catherine of Siena, Bridget of Swedan and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).
Other reflections about St Benedict:
- The Anchoress reflects on being a Benedictine Oblate in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but also has links for reflections by Pope Benedict on the contribution of St Benedict to Western civilization as well as why Joseph Ratzinger took the papal name Benedict.
- Frank Webster over at Why I am Catholic reflects on Tips on Fatherhood from St Benedict.
- Digitalnun reflects on the St Benedict Patron of Europe
- Dr Lilles has a interesting reflection on St Benedict and reliance on God.
- Stillsong Hermitage reflects on "Unlearning possession".
- iBenedictines blog posts on St Benedict
- Blue Eyed Ennis blog post for St Benedict