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After being a Benedictine for twelve years, it’s hard for me to admit that I have struggled feeling close to Saint Benedict. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Benedictine Sister, and I appreciate the Rule that he left us and our way of life that is inspired by him. It’s just that I have found it hard to get to know Benedict as a real person, beyond the statues and stained-glass images. After all, it’s hard to identify with a guy who lived over fifteen hundred years ago. The little we do know of his life fits in one chapter of a book written by Saint Gregory the Great. Other than the Rule, we have no personal writing of Saint Benedict. And, there is no Hollywood Song of Bernadette-like movie about him.

This changed after visiting Subiaco a mere week ago! Subiaco, a 30-mile drive from Rome, is the place where St. Benedict withdrew from the world to be a hermit for three years. I was in the Sacro Speco, the Holy Cave where Benedict lived and prayed.

While spending time in the Holy Cave, I visualized Benedict at prayer. With the ear of my heart I could hear Benedict’s prayer and join my prayers to his. I could envision Benedict struggling with all of life’s big picture questions. I could identify with the tears he must have shed that come with compunction of the heart. I could bask in his awe-filled joy that comes with moments of deep prayer.

Clearly, I cannot say that I walked in Saint Benedict’s shoes by visiting Subiaco but going to Subiaco and visiting Sacro Speco helped me make the connection with Saint Benedict for which my heart and soul were yearning.


Posted in Reflections, Sister Lisa MaurerTagged , ,


  1. Wow Sister Lisa what a moving picture. How wonderful for you to visit the cave and your adventure there. I look forward to all your blogs.

  2. It is always a wonder to hear about someone’s spiritual journey. So many of us can not articulate our journey . you are a blessing to us.

  3. Wow! So glad you could have this experience!! Thanks for your honesty of your struggles in this blog.

  4. As an oblate for 42 years, I still struggle with making St, Benedict “real,” and often forget to go to him as an intercession. I know just how you feel! His Rule, his words of wisdom, are real, but the personal man seems camouflaged—and perhaps he’d be happy with that. I’d love to visit Subiaco, but at this stage in my life I don’t see that happening. You were blessed!

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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict