The Solemnity of Saint Benedict – March 21

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The Solemnity of Saint Benedict – March 21

Death of St. Benedict

This day is the commemoration of the death of St. Benedict of Nurcia.  Summarized in a thimble St. Benedict is considered the Father of Western Monasticism and he is the author of the Holy Rule.  The Rule is a guide to monastic living followed by the Benedictine orders of men and women.

St. Benedict (c. 480-547) was born in Nurcia, Italy.  The times were dangerous and countries in turmoil after the end of the Western Empire. His family was well off and his father sent him to Rome to study.  Disgusted by the corruption and immorality there, he eventually headed out to live by himself as a hermit in a hillside cave outside Subiaco.  In the three years he was there he became known to the locals for his piety and good sense.  He gained followers of his wisdom and lifestyle and in time he founded the Subiaco Abbey now known as St. Scholastica’s Abbey, named after St. Benedict’s sister who was also a monastic.

Montecassino: Benedict Prays as He Dies, with Placid and Maurus
This statue is the first thing one sees at Montecassino, an image of Benedict in rapture at prayer – and, for those who know the Dialogues of St. Gregory – in the process of dying. Two younger brothers and disciples, older now than the frisky boys whose antics are described earlier in the Dialogues, are there to uphold him in body and spirit.
—Caption and photo by Sister Edith Bogue, OSB


He left Subiaco after escaping an attempted poisoning and traveled to Monte Cassino in the mountains of the central Apennines.

While there St. Benedict wrote “a little rule” to help his monastic community better love God, one another, and self. It provided guidelines, on how to live a spiritual life in community.

There he formed another community where he remained until his death.  The Rule covers many topics, such as the joy of worship and the appropriateness of work. The Holy Rule speaks about the duties of leadership; eagerness to pray; hospitality; service; and how to treat the elderly with respect, the sick with gentleness, and the young with understanding and firmness. It discusses in detail the definition and importance of humility.

 The Rule was and is followed by many orders of monks and nuns. Today, the Rule of St. Benedict is read, studied, and used by laypeople as well as religious, Catholics, and  non-Catholics as a guide to balanced and spiritual living based on Christ and the Holy Gospel.  The Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery are a Benedictine order.

See our Oblates page.  Also check out the Holy Rule online.

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized

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