In this lesson we will study the life of St. Benedict, his uniquely important role in the founding of monastic life and by extension, his role in building Western Civilization. The many miracles of St. Benedict will be studied, the liturgical traditions for his feastday will be shared, and students will learn the great promises of the St. Benedict Cross. These and other facts will be shared in this lesson in honor of St. Benedict of Norsia, the Founder of Western Monasticism.Preview This Lesson
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Saint Benedict of Norsia (c. 480 – c. 547) is called the Founder of Western Monasticism. He was born c. 480 in Norsia, Italy as part of the Roman nobility and as the twin sister, Saint Scholastica. He studied in Rome but was dismayed by the lack of discipline there. St. Benedict retreated to the mountains near Subiaco and lived as a hermit in a cave for three years. Legend even says that during this time of meditation and prayer, he was fed by a raven.
Because of his virtues, he was requested to lead an abbey of monks. So he founded the monastery at Monte Cassino. It was there that he wrote the Rule of St. Benedict, which Benedictine Monks still follow today. However, his enforced discipline and holiness was not liked by everyone.
Several monks tried to poison him. Yet as St. Benedict said the prayer of blessing and made the sign of the Cross over his meal before he ate and drank, the poison was rendered harmless. St. Benedict returned to his cave, but he attracted many followers. He would found 12 monasteries.
St. Benedict had the ability to read consciences, prophesy, and forestall attacks from the devil. He destroyed many pagan statues and altars and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans. Many people wear the St. Benedict's Crucifix today. St. Benedict was a shining example of holiness and brought back from the dead several of those who had died.
St. Benedict died on March 21, 547, due to a fever while in prayer at Monte Cassino, Italy. His remains are beneath the High Altar in the same tomb as his twin sister, St. Scholastica. At one point over 40,000 monasteries followed the Benedictine Rule. His Rule has been summed into three words: Ora et labora (Pray and work).
Taken from the New Liturgical Movement Website on the timing of the Feast of St. Benedict:
St. Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this was the date on which his principal feast was traditionally kept, and is still kept by Benedictines; it is sometimes referred to on the liturgical calendars of Benedictine liturgical books as the “Transitus—Passing.”
There was also a second feast to honor the translation of his relics, which was kept on July 11. The location to which the relics were translated is still a matter of dispute, with the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy, founded by the Saint himself, and the French Abbey of Fleury, also known as Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, both claiming to possess them. This second feast is found in many medieval missals and breviaries, even in places not served by monastic c... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
St. Benedict of Norsia is part of the following course(s):